Knights make it!

October 11, 2019

LETRAN clinched its second straight Final Four appearance while Lyceum of the Philippines University sealed its No. 2 ranking in the post-season yesterday in the NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Jerrick Balanza and Christian Balagasay, the remnants of the 2015 Knights team that made an improbable run to the championship, led Letran in overpowering already-eliminated University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, 88-69, for its 11th win in 17 contests.

The Pirates rediscovered their winning ways with a 77-64 romp of also-ran Jose Rizal University, effectively shutting the door for the Knights to force a playoff for the No. 2 seed.

With its 13th victory in 17 starts, LPU will face unbeaten San Beda in a rematch of last year's Finals on Thursday. The Pirates hope to derail the Red Lions' bid of advancing to the championship round outright with a victory.

Coach Bonnie Tan praised Balanza and Balagasay, who are playing their final season, for getting the job done in bringing Letran back to the semifinals.

"Yung last two games (of the eliminations), ide-dedicate ko sa kanila. Yun ang gusto naming mangyari. Gusto naming makakuha sila ng confidence," said Tan.

Balanza fired 18 points while Balagasay also scored 18 points, a career-high, to go with five rebounds and two assists for the Knights.

Ato Ular, who will make his first Final Four stint after toiling for two years in Letran's second team, also shone with a double-double effort of 18 points and 16 rebounds.

"Sobrang saya. Yung team ready na sa Final Four. Matagal ako sa Team B, pagbalik ko dito, nandito na agad ako," said Ular, who was recruited by coach Aldin Ayo four years ago.

The scores:

First Game

Letran (88) -- Balanza 18, Balagasay 18, Ular 17, Yu 14, Batiller 6, Caralipio 6, Ambohot 3, Mina 3, Reyson 2, Muyang 1, Pambid 0, Guarino 0, Javillonar 0, Sangalang 0.

Perpetual (69) -- Charcos 15, Razon 15, Peralta 13, Aurin 11, Adamos 10, Guissani 5, Barasi 0, Tamayo 0, Martel 0, Cuevas 0, Lanoy 0, Sevilla 0, Lucero 0.
 
Quarterscores: 22-16, 50-30, 68-53, 88-69

Second Game

LPU (77) -- JC. Marcelino 23, Nzeusseu 15, Tansingco 10, Caduyac 9, David 6, Santos 6, JV. Marcelino 5, Ibañez 3, Navarro 0, Yong 0, Remulla 0.

JRU (64) -- Delos Santos 19, Aguilar 16, Miranda 10, Dela Rosa 9, Amores 6, Dionisio 2, Vasquez 2, Arenal 0, Jungco 0.

Quarterscores: 15-14, 43-33, 57-47, 77-64

Third Game

EAC (77) -- Gonzales 13, De Guzman 12, Mendoza 11, Maguliano 8, Gurtiza 8, Taywan 7, Martin 6, Carlos 4, Boffa 2, Corilla 2, Dayrit 2, Luciano 2, Cadua 0, Estacio 0.

Arellano (50) -- Salado 14, Arana 13, Espiritu 7, Sablan 5, Bayla 4, Oliva 4, Gayosa 3, Alcoriza 0, Concepcion 0, De Guzman 0, Sacramento 0, Segura 0, Sunga 0, Talampas 0.

Quarterscores: 16-15. 36-27, 63-40, 77-50