MANILA, Philippines - The Letran Knights did their part yesterday and will now need the San Beda Red Lions’ helping hand to get a playoff shot at No. 2 seeding and the crucial twice-to-beat advantage in the 2012 NCAA Final Four.
The Knights kicked their game into high gear in the second half, pulling away en route to a 76-58 rout of the Arellano U Chiefs at The Arena in San Juan last night.
From eighth place, Letran closed in on San Beda and San Sebastian with a near unblemished 8-1 slate in the second round and an overall 12-6 mark at the end of its elimination round stint.
The Muralla-based school ties San Sebastian for second place if the San Beda Lions beat the Golden Stags at the close of the elims Monday. In such eventuality, the Knights and the Stags figure in a playoff for the second semis berth.
“We don’t care whatever happens Monday. Whichever way, we need to beat San Sebastian twice to make the next level. So we’ll try to do it,” said Letran coach Louie Alas.
“It’s a tall order but it’s doable,” Alas added.
Going for the Knights is the momentum of their second-round romp that they did on the return of center Raymond Almazan.
“The return of Raymond made things easier for the team. The other guys stepped up with him there,” said Alas.
Letran avenged its 67-77 loss to Arellano U in the first round and sent the Chiefs to a 6-12 windup.
The Knights took a while to get their game going against the Chiefs, playing tight early on with the pressure they’re facing.
Kevin Alas and his teammates, however, came out loose from the halftime huddle, establishing rhythm in the third period and going on to run away with the key win.
Tightening up on defense, the Knights held the Chiefs to six points while making 22 of their own to build a 62-44 lead in the third period.
The Chiefs didn’t score a basket in the first half until Levi Hernandez drained a short jumper with already five minutes into the third period.
Alas fired away five triples and led all scorers with 24 points that went with 10 assists, six rebounds and two steals against three turnovers in 37 minutes of action.
Kevin Racal contributed 15 points and six rebounds while Jonathan Belorio added 10 boards and nine markers.