A depleted Letran side regained some footing after lording over winless College of St. Benilde, 57-40 to snap a five-game skid in the second round of the 92nd NCAA men’s basketball tournament San Juan Arena Tuesday.
The Knights won handily against the Blazers despite playing without Jerrick Balanza, Chris dela Pena and Marvin Sario, who were all serving their one-game suspension for their unsportsmanlike acts in the team’s loss to San Beda last Saturday.
Letran improved to 6-7, good for solo sixth place to keep its flickering semifinal hopes alive.
College of St. Benilde’s 40 points is the least output it has ever had in a game this entire season, with the team slumping to a pitiful 0-13 record.
“Marunong pa pala kaming manalo,” Letran head coach Jeff Napa said in a post-game interview after his team registered its first win in over one month.
The Knights last won on July 28 against the JRU Heavy Bombers, 67-62.
“Malaking factor dahil ikaw ba naman yung magsunud-sunod na puro talo. At least, hopefully ito yung mag-boost ng morale ng mga bata lalo na malakas yung kalaban namin ng Friday,” said the former National University Bullpups coach.
“We have to be positive. Kailangan gumawa pa rin kami ng tama. Sana magtuloy-tuloy na ang winning streak namin.”
The defending champions limited the Blazers to a woeful 23.88 percent shooting from the field even as the Taft-based squad went one-of-16 from beyond the arc.
Rey Nambatac had 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists for the Knights.
Christian Fajarito led St. Benilde with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Letran though will have its hands full when it faces streaking San Sebastian College (5-9) on Friday. – John Chester Fajardo