MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Colegio de San Juan de Letran weathered the rampaging San Beda Red Lions in Game 2 of the NCAA basketball finals, 64-55, to force a deciding Game 3.
Jonathan Belorio scored 15 points on 3-of-3 field goal shooting to help the Knights foil the Lions’ attempt to sweep the best-of-3 finals.
Motivated by their Game 1 loss to San Beda, Letran managed to hold on to the lead despite a rally by the Lions in the fourth during their game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.
“'Yung last game sayang kasi muntikan na naming tinalo sila, pero ginawa naming motivation iyon para makabalik sa Game 2,” said Belorio, who completed a double-double by plucking 10 rebounds.
Belorio and Carlo Lituania led the way for the Knights in the first two quarters for a 37-28 lead against the Lions.
But San Beda clamped on Letran’s shooters while dumping in 15 points in the third quarter.
In that period, the Lions’ defensive wall limited the Knights to just four points for a 43-41 advantage going into the final quarter.
A 10-4 exchange capped by Kevin Alas’ basket saw Letran reclaiming the lead midway in the fourth, 51-47.
Despite several tries by the Lions, the Knights maintained its grip on the lead.
Kevin Racal’s charity shots with 2.7 seconds remaining set the final score for Letran’s win, its first victory against San Beda in 5 years.
The Lions are looking for a record 17th crown in their title showdown against the Knights.
Letran and San Beda will resume its NCAA Finals duel on Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Before the game, San Sebastian’s Ian Sangalang was named Most Valuable Player of the NCAA’s 88th season.
He bested fellow candidates Kevin Alas of Letran and Scott Thompson.
Sangalang's teamate Calvin Abueva was leading in statistical points, but was disqualified from the race for punching Lyceum's Joggy Laude in the eliminations.