Skipper McJour Luib of defending champion Letran swished through a big triple over the outstretched arms of Arellano U defender Zach Nichols then raised his arms in jubilation, trying to soak it all in amidst his best—yet most surprising—offensive performance yet.
Few would dare to temper Luib’s celebration. After all, he has missed all of his first 11 attempts from beyond the arc in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney then found a big way to snap out of that shooting slump on Thursday night.
The Cagayan de Oro native showcased his newfound shooting touch, drilling in five big triples out of seven attempts while powering the Knights past the erstwhile undefeated Chiefs behind an impressive 89-79 victory—their third straight—at The Arena in San Juan.
Hardly making his presence felt offensively with averages of 2.3 points on 12.5 percent shooting clip in their first three games, Luib buried a personal season-high of 17 markers on top of three rebounds and as many assists while helping contain Arellano U’s top playmaker Jio Jalalon that proved to be one of the keys in Letran’s solid win.
The unwavering faith and support given by Letran’s coaching staff, led by mentor Jeff Napa, and his fellow Knights helped him ease the pressure somehow, said Luib.
“Dumating lang din sa akin kasi hindi gumive-up ang mga coaches sa akin. Mino-motivate nila ako kahit lang ako naka-shoot ng 3-points this season. ‘Yung mga teammates ko, pinapasahan pa rin ako. Sa sarili ko naman, nilalabanan ko ‘yung pressure,” he said.
“Buti ngayon lumabas, buti na lang. Sana tumuloy-tuloy at maging consistent. Long way to go, sana maging consistent ang shooting ko.”
What made Luib appreciate his exploits more was the fact that he was able to slow down the 5-foot-10 Jalalon, who tallied 17 points and 11 assists but groped for form throughout, missing 14 of his 16 tries, 10 of them inside the arc.
“Natuwa ako kasi na-execute namin ‘yung game plan na i-minimize si Jio,” beamed Luib.
“Hindi mo naman masi-zero ‘yun, number 1 point guard yun. Kahit na ganun yung stats nya, at least nagawa namin yung game plan namin na number 1 is stop him.”
Jalalon’s backcourt partner, Kent Salado, was hardly felt as he settled for just two points on 1-of-6 shooting while accounting for two of the Chiefs’ 16 errors.
“Credit din sa game plan ng coaches namin na pinag-igihin nila kung paano ma-minimize ‘yung backcourt ng Arellano,” said Luib. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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