Nieto spoils Quinto’s late-game heroics as Ateneo escapes Letran in thriller

June 29, 2018

DEFEATED. The Letran Knights fell short against the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the quarterfinals of the Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup at Flying V Arena. (Photo by Paul Sugano/The LANCE)

By Miguel La Torre

The Letran Knights fell short against the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 72-74, in a thrilling quarterfinals
match in the 12th FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan,

Letran and Ateneo threw blows after blows, tallying eight deadlocks and eight lead changes in
the final period alone. The Knights though, had their chance when Bong Quinto recovered the
ball off an Angelo Kouame block on Christian Fajarito, and scored a clutch two-pointer to give
Letran a 72-70 lead with 25.3 seconds remaining.

However, after Quinto’s potential game-clinching basket, Gilas Cadet Matt Nieto took matters
into his hands and willed the game to the Blue Eagles’ favor.

Nieto drove past JP Calvo and converted his lay-up to tie the game at 72. The veteran point
guard, however, missed his freebie that would have given Ateneo the lead. Luckily, the Blue
Eagles regained the possession as the ball went out of bounds off Letran’s Bonbon Batiller.
With the game on the line, Nieto again was able to breeze past his defenders and score the go-
ahead basket with 5.4 seconds remaining.

“Alam naman naming na magiging ganun yung sitwasyon. So it’s a matter of mind games na
lang. Hindi lang talaga maka shoot, pero yung execution nandun pa rin. Despite na nakahabol at
na-down, nag keep-up pa rin kami in to the game,” Letran head coach Jeff Napa explained
“Calvo and Quinto were consistent. Kailangan lang yung others mag step-up. Fajarito stepped-
up, nawala ‘yung pressure sa kaniya,” said Napa, commending Christian Fajarito’s performance
against Ateneo’s bigs.

The then-quiet Christian Fajarito stepped-up his game, giving the Blue Eagles a hard time
underneath the basket. Fajarito scored six of his 10 points in the crucial moments of the game.
The Nieto twins had nine points each for the Blue Eagles while Kouame chipped in eight points
and 13 rebounds.

The Knights, who bowed out of the tournament with a 5-4 card, was led by the pint-sized Calvo
with 16 points and four rebounds while Batiller played his best game of the season with 13
points. However, Quinto was held to only 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field.

The Scores:

ADMU (74) – Ma. Nieto 9, Mi. Nieto 9, Kouame 8, Ravena 6, Asistio 6, Wong 6, Verano 5,
Navarro 5, Tio 5, Go 4, Belangel 4, White 3, Mendoza 2, Maagdenberg 2, Mamuyac 0, Black 0,
Andrade 0

CSJL (72) – Calvo 16, Batiller 13, Quinto 10, Fajarito 10, Muyang 10, Celis 4, Balanza 2, Balagasay
2, Balagasay 2, Yu 2, Agbong 2, Ambohot 1, Mandreza 0, Taladua 0
Quarterscores: 17-15, 35-30, 52-52, 72-74