Letran to defend title sans top gunners

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Newly-installed Letran College coach Jeff Napa said he is not threatened nor worried by the improvement of other teams in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 92 men’s basketball tournament which will kick off on June 25 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

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But the former National University Bullpup mentor said he is worried about their own performance.

Napa was chosen by Letran management to fill the void left by champion coach Aldin Ayo, who is now with De La Salle University.

“When it comes to other teams, I’m not worried and threatened,” Napa told The Manila Times on Sunday in a phone interview. “But I’m more worried to what we’re going to perform and what we’re going to do [this season]than anything else. We’re focusing on our campaign.”

He also emphasized t that defense would always be the team’s main philosophy for the entire season. “Just like in the previous program, playing defense will always be the team’s main priority,” he explained.

The defending champion Letran Knights, who toppled the San Beda Red Lions in last year’s best-of-three finals, lost last season’s starters Kevin Racal and play­maker Mark Cruz this coming season because they are no longer eligible to play.

Racal and Cruz are now suiting up for Alaska and Phoenix, respectively, in the Philippine Basketball Association.

But Napa said he remains optimistic of Letran’s chances this season, saying that he believes in the talent of remaining players headed by guard Rey Nambatac, McJour Luib and Jomari Sollano.

“I’m confident my remaining veteran players as well as the young ones will complement with each other as the season goes,” added the 35-year-old Napa. “We are targeting to win as many as we can in the elimination round and qualify in the final four.”

He also said that he already gauged the Knights’ offensive and defensive capability during the Fil-Oil Flying V basketball tournament.

“We exited earlier in that tournament but that’s fine. At least, we are able to gauge the team and start early for the NCAA,” he said. “We are just going to follow our game plan and I’m happy the players are now starting to adapt to the new system.”

JOSEF RAMOS

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