MANILA, Philippines – Letran rode on a strong scoring effort by Kevin Alas as it waylaid a listless Lyceum, 76-60, to breathe some life to its flickering Final Four hopes in the 88th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
Alas exploded with 30 points, including 10 in the first quarter when his team went on attack mode and made their move, as the Knights snared their seventh win against six losses, just a game and a half behind idle Perpetual Help and Jose Rizal, which are tied at third and fourth places on 8-4 (win-loss) slates.
“I told him I’ll keep him in the game if he will not commit errors that much,” said Letran coach Louie Alas, who happens to be coaching son Kevin.
“He still had four turnovers but in 39 minutes. I think it’s minimal,” he added.
Raymond Almazan, for his part, came through with his season-high 15 points he spiked with nine boards and three blocks and won his third in four games since he returned a couple of weeks ago from a two-month hiatus.
The day, however, belonged to Alas, who came a point shy from tying his season-high 31 points, which he unleashed in Letran’s 80-74 win over San Sebastian in the season opener at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum last June 23.
The Pirates also had to do without coach Boni Tan, who left early in the third quarter reportedly due to health reasons, and starting forward John Azores, who was tossed out due to a disqualifying foul the same period.
Lyceum fell to 2-11 and out of the Final Four race.
In juniors’ action, Rey Nambatac came two steals short of a quadruple-double effort as he helped power Letran to a 110-29 massacre of Lyceum to improve to 8-3 slate.
Nambatac, a member of the Energen Pilipinas team that finished sixth in the FIBA-Asia Under-18 Championship in Mongolia, finished with game-highs of 22 points, 14 rebounds, 16 assists and eight steals and just one turnover in only 27 minutes of action.
Mapua dumped Arellano U, 79-69, to hike its record to 8-4.
The Junior Pirates remain winless in 13 outings while the Junior Chiefs absorbed an eighth defeat against five triumphs.
In the nightcap, Arellano U leaned on John Pinto’s game-winning jumper as it edged Mapua, 59-57, to stay in the Final Four hunt as the former tied the latter at sixth spot with 5-8 marks.
First Game (Srs)
Letran 76 – Ke. Alas 30, Almazan 15, Cruz 10, Racal 9, Cortes 5, Lituania 2, Gabriel 2, Gabawan 2, Belorio 1, Luib 0
Lyceum 60 – Zamora 16, Ko 14, Cayabyab 14, Edding 2, Martinez 2, Mallari 2, Laude 2, Guevarra 2, Francisco 2, Azores 2, Ambohot 0, Alanes 0, Pascual 0
Quarterscores: 17-10; 38-20; 59-36; 76-60
Second Game (Srs)
Arellano U 59 – Forrester 19, Acidre 13, Bangga 9, Pinto 8, Hernandez 5, Caperal 3, Zulueta 2, Cadavis 0, Salcedo 0
Mapua 57 – Nimes 17, Parala 13, Eriobu 8, Ighalo 7, G. Banal 5, Saitanan 5, J. Banal 2, Stevens 0, Cantos 0, Brana 0, Estrella 0
Quarterscores: 13-15; 28-26; 43-38; 59-57