The San Beda Red Lions survived a furious rally from the Letran Knights to win the first meeting of the two rivals in the NCAA, 70-66. San Beda stays on top of the pack at 5-0 while Letran falls to the fourth spot with a 5-2 record.
Evan Nelle led the team with 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Donald Tankoua scored 15 points while the forward duo of Calvin Oftana and James Kwekuteye added 11 each. Jerrick Balanza led Letran with 20 points.
Nelle and Tankuoa played big in the third quarter of the game. They combined for 13 points of the total 23 that San Beda scored in the quarter. That offensive push helped the Red Lions extend their seven-point halftime lead to 11 heading to the final period. Unfortunately for San Beda, their ammo ran out in the fourth quarter. They managed to score only eight points in the final 10 minutes, leaving the door open for Letran to make a comeback.
The Letran bench led the attack as they were able to close the gap to just four points with 15 seconds left in the game. The Knights had a chance to cut the lead down further but their offense couldn’t penetrate the San Beda defense. The Red Lions were able to force a tough shot in the final moments of the game, ensuring that they would get their fifth win of the season.
In the second game of the day, the Mapua Cardinals finally got the breakthrough win they’ve been looking for. They take down the Arellano Chiefs, 73-64 to win their first game of the season. Both teams now have a 1-5 record.
Laurenz Victoria erupted for 29 points to lead Mapua in the game. He was backed up by Paolo Hernandez who scored 14 points with 11 coming in the final period. Archie Concepcion led Arellano with 13.
Victoria was the steadying presence for Mapua in the game. He carried the Cardinal offense in the first three quarters, keeping the game close between the two teams. In the final period, he finally got the help he needed from Hernandez. The two teamed up for 19 of the team’s 20 points in the final period. They played a crucial role in the game-changing run to put the game away.
In the final two minutes of the game, the Cardinals were holding a slim two-point lead. Victoria nailed a big fadeaway jumper to spark a 7-0 run. He scored two more points during that stretch while Hernandez added the rest of the three points. That stretched the Mapua lead to nine, effectively putting the game away.
NAA File Photo