The embattled Letran Knights took a fall at its 5th game of the NCAA Season 98, versus the San Beda Red Lions at the FilOil EcoOil Arena. Photo by Patrick Dominic Romero of The LANCE.
The Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights faltered to rival San Beda Red Lions, 68-76, in the NCAA Season 98 Men’s Basketball Tournament earlier today at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
This win marked San Beda’s first win versus Letran since November 15, 2019, in Game 2 of the NCAA Season 95 with a 79-76 victory to force a third game in that series.
Letran was undermanned in the game as Louie Sangalang and Brent Paraiso were out after they both sustained suspensions following their game against Mapua. San Beda was also without the presence of Ralph Penuela and Justine Sanchez, both down with injuries.
Splash island for the Knights as the trio of Fran Yu, King Caralipio, and Kurt Reyson led the way after they went 9/13 from down the arc to give Letran a 17-point lead to start the game off against the Red Lions, 33-16.
The Mendiola-based team however refused to let this rivalry game slip away from them that easily as they feasted on Letran’s carelessness with 25 points off turnovers to get them back into the contest.
James Kwekuteye spearheaded San Beda’s efforts after he dropped six points in the quarter after going scoreless in the first to trim the Knight’s lead to one at the end of the first half, 43-42.
Letran and San Beda did not let up the intensity as the two juggernauts exchanged blow after blow with the Red Lions coming out with a two-point lead, 55-57, going into the final period.
Yu started the fourth by sinking two free throws, this was followed by a quick seven-point run by the Red Lions to give them a comfortable cushion in the matchup.
When all seemed hopeless for Letran, Reyson rained in back-to-back threes for the Knights to cut the lead to one with 4:46 left in the game.
Unfortunately for Coach Bonnie Tan’s team, they failed to find the bottom of the net while Yuri Escueta and the San Beda Red Lions continued to force turnover after turnover from the Knights.
After a crucial offensive board from JB Bahio, Kwekuteye’s two free throws and Alfaro’s layup iced the game for San Beda with a final score of 68-76.
Reyson led all teams in scoring with 20 points, followed by Fran Yu’s 17 markers and five assists, and Caralipio who finished with a double-double, 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Two players from San Beda ended the game with double-doubles as Kwekuteye dropped 17 and 11, while JB Bahio had 16 and 13, Peter Alfaro also showed up for the Red Lions with 13 points of his own.
In an interview with The LANCE, Coach Bonnie Tan expressed his appreciation for his rookies in Kevin Santos and Kobe Monje despite their lackluster performance in today’s game.
He also added that it was their defense and turnovers that let this game slip away from them and that regardless of the loss they would take this game as an experience for their following games.
The Letran Knights look to bounce back against the LPU Pirates this Sunday at 3 PM, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre, still without the presence of Sangalang and Paraiso with the 2nd game of their two-game suspension in effect.