MANILA -- Letran leaned on the heroics of co-captain Mark Cruz in overtime as it turned back Jose Rizal, 84-77, in the 90th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City on Friday.
Cruz poured in 10 of his career high 26 points in OT, including a pair of booming triples that helped the Knights seal their fourth win against 6 losses and boosting their Final Four chances.
"He's one of the leaders of this team and today he showed why," said Letran coach Caloy Garcia of Cruz.
An 8-0 blast highlighted by two 3-pointers by Cruz to start extra time was what Letran needed to blow the Bombers away.
After Jose Rizal answered with 5 straight points to cut the deficit to 3 points, 75-78, with about a minute to go, Cruz made 4 free throws that secured the win.
Philip Paniamogan was on his way to a career performance after exploding with 24 points in the first 3 quarters alone.
But the Cagayan de Oro native scored only 2 points the rest of the way to end up with 26, which matched his previous best.
The Bombers absorbed their fourth defeat against 6 wins.
Letran 84- Cruz 26, Nambatac 21, Tambeling 12, Quinto 8, Racal 7, Gabawan 5, Saldua 3, Ruaya 2, Luib 0, Dela Pena 0, Singontiko 0, Publico 0
Jose Rizal 77- Paniamogan 26, Abdul Wahab 13, Mabulac 10, Lasquety 8, Sanchez 6, Teodoro 5, Asuncion 4, Grospe 3, Benavides 2, Balagtas 0
Quarterscores: 9-14; 34-33; 58-57; 70-all; 84-77 (OT)