MANILA, Philippines -- The Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights showcased the depth of their squad in an impressive 96-67 demolition of the undermanned Arellano University Chiefs, Wednesday afternoon at the La Salle Greenhills Gym.
The defending champions broke the game open in the second quarter and never looked back en route to a second straight victory in the NCAA Season 97 men's basketball tournament.
Jeo Ambohot netted a career-high 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting, while also grabbing eight rebounds. Tommy Olivario came off the bench to put up 15 points and seven assists, and was the catalyst of Letran's big second frame.
Rhenz Abando had 11 points and seven boards. Making the Knights' performance all the more impressive is that reigning Finals MVP Fran Yu went scoreless in 26 minutes, but had six boards and five dimes in the win.
"Pinaikot namin 'yung bola, kaya ayun, nagbubunga naman 'yung mga ginagawa namin," said Ambohot.
The Knights settled for a 20-17 lead after the opening frame, with Jordan Sta. Ana and Kobe Caballero doing their best to keep the Chiefs in the hunt. But Letran limited them to just nine points in the second period while scoring 21 points of their own, setting the tone for the rout.
Olivario beat the third quarter buzzer with a long-range heave to give Letran a 66-51 lead, and the Knights found their stroke from beyond the arc in the final frame to pile on the points.
The defending champions shot a blistering 57.7% from the field, while Arellano was only at 32.9%.
The Chiefs were playing for the first time without big man Justin Arana, who suffered a knee injury in their first game against San Sebastian College. The good news for Arellano is that Arana's injury -- initially thought to be season-ending -- has been downgraded to a Grade 1 ACL sprain after they got a second opinion from orthopedic surgeon Dr. Raul Canlas.
It remains to be seen when Arana can return for the Chiefs.
John Carandang and Kalen Doromal led Arellano with 11 points each.
LETRAN (96) -- Ambohot 20, Olivario 15, Abando 11, Sangalang 10, Caralipio 9. Reyson 6, Javillonar 6. Mina 5, Paraiso 4, Lantaya 4, Fajarito 3, Guarino 3, Yu 0, Tolentino 0.
ARELLANO (67) -- Doromal 11, Carandang 11, Sablan 9, Caballero 7, Cruz 7, Valencia 6, Oliva 4, Steinl 4, Abastillas 3, Sta. Ana 3, Talampas 2, Uri 0, Dela Cruz 0, Concepcion 0.
Quarterscores: 20-17, 41-26, 66-51, 96-67.