Defending champion Letran takes on struggling San Sebastian College on Tuesday afternoon, with the Knights favored to claim their fourth straight victory in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan City.
After dropping their opening-day match against host San Beda 85-89, the Knights have been on a big roll lately, winning their next three matches in style, the last a solid 89-79 victory over Arellano U, considered by many as their biggest title threat, last Thursday.
Letran could be in for an easy sailing against San Sebastian, which won its season opener over St. Benilde 54-49 but dropped its last two matches with an average losing margin of 16.5 points.
Top Letran wingman Rey Nambatac, however, refused to be lulled into any false sense of complacency, saying the Knights should maintain the high level of consistency.
“Para sa akin, kailangan lang namin maging consistent bawat isa. Kasi kami lang naman ang magtutulung-tulungan para manalo sa game,” said the 6-foot Cagayan de Oro native, who’s been a consistent force for Letran with impressive averages of 20.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Nambatac said he’s expecting the Knights to be more consistent especially in closing out matches, knowing they cannot afford to have their guards down.
“Nu’ng fourth quarter (against Arellano U), inisip ko naman na lamang na kami all the way so hindi kami pwedeng bumigay sa fourth quarter. Kasi nung last three games namin, talagang bumibigay kami sa fourth quarter so sa game na ito, naka-focus kami sa dapat naming gawin at nag-stick pa rin kami sa sistema ni coach Jeff (Napa),” he said.
His familiarity with Arellano U star Jiovani Jalalon helped Nambatac and Letran skipper McJour Luib get the job done the last time out.
“Kapag sinabi mo kasing Jio Jalalon, talagang smart player” said Nambatac of his former teammate at Caida Tile in the PBA D-League and in their high school back in Cagayan de Oro City.
“Magaling talaga so sabi nga ni McJour, natsa-challenge kami. Lalo ako, teammate ko si Jio sa Cagayan and of course sa D-League. Nagkakasama rin kami so minsan alam namin ang bawat galaw. Ginamit ko ‘yun para pag-isipan kung ano ang dapat kong gawin kay Jio.”
The 5-foot-11 Luib should also maintain some sort of consistency, having woke up from a long stupor by firing away a personal season-high of 17 points, spiked by five triples, against the Chiefs. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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