Not even the presence of former Letran coach Aldin Ayo could save the Knights from an upset ax by the Lyceum Pirates.
Despite dictating the tempo of the game for much of the match, the defending NCAA men’s basketball champion Letran suffered a 68-66 defeat to Lyceum on Thursday at he San Juan Arena.
Rey Nambatac, the tournament’s leading scorer attributed the team’s sorry loss, its fifth in 10 games, to bad breaks in the endgame.
“Breaks of the game. Hindi talaga para sa amin. Lamang kami all the way tapos 4th quarter, nag-give up kami. Yun ang gagawin namin next game, next practices para maclose out namin yung game,” said Nambatac after the game.
Nambatac admitted the presence of Ayo, who steered Letran to last season’s championship, lifted the team’s spirit during the game.
But while he egged his teammates to give it their all, Lyceum just proved to the title-seeking Letran side that it wanted the win more.
“Nadis-appoint si Ccoach Aldin. Kasi knowing coach Aldin, siya yung tipo na ayaw magpatalo sa mga teams na alam naman na kaya namin. Kami, as a player na-disappoint eh. Siya pa, na true-blooded Letran Knight,” rued the Letran go-to-guy.
With losses piling up, Letran’s Final Four chances are suddenly jeopardized, especially with the way arch-nemesis San Beda and Perpetual Help building some separation in the win-loss column.
“Sobrang bigat kasi before mag-start yung 2nd round, sabi namin sa isa’t isa, bawat game namin very important. Kasi kung gusto naming makapasok sa Final Four, kailangan naming mag-streak ng win,” he added.
At 5-5, Ayo is convinced Letran still has a chance to figure a way to win under new coach Jeff Napa. – John Bryan Ulanday
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