BOX OUT Kint Ariar (17) of Letran and Mark Sangco of College of Saint Benilde jostle for rebounding position during their NCAA Season 98 game on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre. NCAA/GMA PHOTO
BOX OUT Kint Ariar (17) of Letran and Mark Sangco of College of Saint Benilde jostle for rebounding position during their NCAA Season 98 game on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre. NCAA/GMA PHOTO

DEFENDING champion Colegio de San Juan de Letran bounced back from a loss and vented its ire on De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde with an 81-75 victory on Friday in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 98 men's basketball tournament at the FilOil EcoOil Centre.

Brent Paraiso finished with 25 points and four steals to lead the way for the three-peat seeking Knights, who were stunned by the Arellano University Chiefs, 72-69, last Sunday.

Fran Yu also came through for Letran as he collected 12 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and six steals, while Paolo Javillonar cashed in 10 markers, five boards and two dimes.

Kobe Monje logged 10 points, three caroms, and two assists as Kurt Reyson added six points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Knights, who also handed the Blazers their first loss after starting the season with three wins.

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"I challenged the boys to not allow what happened in our game against Arellano to happen here," said Knights head coach Bonnie Tan.

"Our loss to Arellano was very frustrating and we don't want that to happen again," added Tan, whose Knights faltered late in the game against the Chiefs last Sunday.

It appeared that Letran was on the verge of another collapse against the Blazers who rallied from a 71-56 deficit in the third frame to come within two points, 75-77, following a Will Gozum layup with 2:36 remaining in the game.

Letran, however, clamped on its defense and prevented Saint Benilde from scoring again.

Yu scored on a nifty layup to give the Knights a 79-75 lead with 54.1 seconds to go. Reyson and Paraiso then split their respective free throw attempts to seal the victory for the Knights.

Will Gozum uncorked another double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the way for Benilde, which fell to a 3-1 slate but still on top of the team standings.

Migs Corteza backstopped Gozum with 18 points and seven rebounds as Robi Naybe and Ladis Lepalam chipped in 10 points apiece in the loss.