With Letran star wingman Rey Nambatac getting most of the brunt from their opponents’ defensive intensity, guard JP Calvo took it upon himself to make his presence felt and he immediately gave the Knights what they’ve been looking for on Friday night.
The diminutive Calvo shone on both ends, helping Letran derail erstwhile streaking San Sebastian College 73-61 while boosting their Final Four hopes in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan City.
Calvo sizzled with a team-high-tying 16 markers, half of them coming in the third canto where the Knights led by as many as 14 points and gained enough momentum to hold off the Golden Stags’ last-ditch fightback—and their four-game winning streak.
Defensively, Calvo also proved a handful as he put the clamps down on San Sebastian gunner RK Ilagan, who mightily struggled from the field, missing all of his seven attempts while scoring just a solitary points in more than 25 minutes of action.
The exploits of Calvo helped defending champion Letran pumped life to its once sagging Final Four hopes as it improved to an even 7-7 record, pulling itself closer to idle Mapua (8-5) and Jose Rizal U (8-6) for the fourth and final semifinals spot.
“Kagabi pa lang, iniisip ko na kailangan talaga naming manalo. Ang mindset ko, kailangan magtrabaho para sa team kasi si Rey ‘pag endgame, masyado na siyang nababasa,” said Calvo. “Hindi naman ito para sa akin lang kundi para sa team.”
While he’s pleased with Calvo’s performance, Letran coach Jeff Napa commended the entire Knights crew, hoping they could find that consistent form with four matches remaining in the eliminations.
“‘Yun consistency namin, dapat everybody. Collective effort dapat lalo’t wala kaming foreigner. As much as possible, ginagawaan namin ng paraan para ma-loosen up ‘yung depensa kay Rey,” said Napa.
Asked how he was able to slow down Ilagan, who’s been one of the main sources of the Golden Stags’ production during their revival, Calvo said: “Trinabaho ko lang ang pinapagawa sa akin ni coach. Ginawa ko lang ng tama.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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