• Letran tackles Mapua, aims to fortify lead

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    Pacesetting Colegio de San Juan de Letran will strengthen its hold of the top spot when it faces Mapua Institute of Technology today in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 91 men’s basketball competition at The Arena in San Juan City.

    The game is set at 4 p.m. with the Knights enjoying the solo lead with an 11-2 record.

    They are expected to rely on the one-two punch of small forward Kevin Racal and diminutive Mark Cruz, who are now playing their last year in the country’s oldest collegiate league.

    Letran defeated College of Saint Benilde, 79-69, on Thursday for its 11th win.

    But the Cardinals, who hold an 8-5 win-loss record at No. 5 spot, are eyeing to extend their four-game winning streak. They won over University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, San Sebastian College, Jose Rizal University (JRU) and Lyceum.

    Mapua’s third year coach Atoy Co, a former professional basketball player, will not be sitting on the bench because of a two-game suspension slapped against him by league commissioner Arturo Cristobal.

    He was ejected in Friday’s game against Lyceum during the fourth quarter for complaining too much.

    Coach Aldin Ayo of Letran, however, believes that Mapua remains a tough team to handle despite Co’s absence.

    “They’re already a strong team and [they are]getting stronger each game. We should not be complacent against them,” said Ayo of Mapua.

    After the Knights, the Cardinals will play strong teams starting on September 18 against the JRU Heavy Bombers (7-6), the Arellano University Chiefs (10-4) on September 25, the Perpetual Altas (9-4) on October 2 and the reigning five-peat champions San Beda Red Lions (10-3) on October 6.

    The JRU Heavy Bombers, mean¬while, will try to keep their hopes alive when they meet College of Saint Benilde at 2 p.m.

    The Heavy Bombers are in sixth place with seven wins against six losses while the Blazers are already out of contention with only three victories and 10 defeats.

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