MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) -- The San Sebastian Golden Stags squandered a double-digit lead and saw six players foul out, but still made the big plays down the stretch to pull off a hard-earned 102-101 triumph over the Letran Knights.
The victory, which came without suspended head coach Egay Macaraya, snapped the Stags' three-game losing streak in the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball tournament on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Ken Villapando nailed the go-ahead bucket off an assist by Allyn Bulanadi with 16.5 seconds left, and the Stags stood firm defensively in the final stretch of the game to break the hearts of the Knights.
San Sebastian, which has not played since July 30, improved their record to 3-3. Letran absorbed its second straight defeat to drop to 5-3 in the tournament.
RK Ilagan led the Stags with 22 points and 7 assists, while Bulanadi finished with 21 points and 4 rebounds. Alvin Capobres added 19 markers, and the Golden Stags survived a foul-plagued game that saw them give up a whopping 61 free throws to Letran.
"Talagang mas gutom talaga manalo ang mga bata," said assistant coach Melo Banua, who called the shots for the Golden Stags in Macaraya's absence.
"Past few games, kapos kami lagi," he also noted. "Siguro, dito, at least magiging kumpiyansa na si Kenneth (Villapando), sila Alex (Desoyo), mga rookies. Malaking confidence 'to sa amin."
The Golden Stags were up by as much as 17 points, and led 78-66 with 7:41 left in the fourth quarter after back-to-back three-pointers by Alvin Capobres. But the Knights clawed their way back in the game by pouncing on San Sebastian's foul-prone ways, and made the most of Larry Muyang's advantage inside the paint.
The burly big man scored 8 points in an 11-0 blast that knotted the count at 87 with 1:52 to go, then nailed a clutch lay-up that kept the Knights in the game, 90-89, with 51.2 seconds left after free throws by Ilagan had pushed San Sebastian ahead once more.
A split at the line by Mark Sangalang gave the Stags a 91-89 lead with 33.6 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, but Muyang drew the last foul of Allen Mina on the other end then coolly sank two charities to tie the game once more.
San Sebastian had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Alvin Capobres flubbed a lay-up in the closing seconds.
The Knights appeared to have completed the comeback when Muyang pushed them ahead, 99-98, with a pair of free throws in overtime.
Capobres and Villapando would split their free throws to put the Stags back in front, 100-99, with 54.1 seconds to go, only for Muyang to convert a huge bucket for a 101-100 lead with 48.5 seconds to play.
Letran got a stop in their next possession when Rommel Calahat bungled his attempt, but the Stags were able to regain possession and get the ball to Bulanadi, who calmly dropped it off to Villapando for the go-ahead basket with 18.5 seconds to go.
"Sinabi lang niya sa akin na wag na ako mag-hula-hula. Doon na tayo sa mga beterano. Manalo-matalo, stick tayo sa game plan natin," said Banua of Macaraya's instructions. "Wag na daw ako mag-magic-magic, basta kung ano pinraktis, 'yun lang."
"Si Allyn at Kenneth, buti nag-step up si Kenneth noong overtime," he added.
San Sebastian would force the Knights to fumble their play in the dying seconds, and Bonbon Batiller's game-winning attempt with 1.3 seconds left hit the side of the iron as time expired.
The Golden Stags pulled out the win despite seeing six players -- including Ilagan -- foul out of the game.
Squandered in the loss was Muyang's 32-point, 18-rebound effort. The big man made 10 of his 12 attempts from the field, and 12 of his 16 free throws. Jerrick Balanza added 21 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.
The Knights had a massive 57-39 edge in rebounding, including 26 offensive rebounds. But they also missed 15 of the 61 free throws that they were given, and made only three of 22 three-point attempts.
SAN SEBASTIAN 102 - Ilagan 22, Bulanadi 21, Capobres 19, Calahat 9, Dela Cruz 9, Calma 7, Villapando 6, Desoyo 4, Cosari 3, Tero 2, Altamirano 0, Sumoda 0, Loristo 0
LETRAN 101 - Muyang 32, Balanza 21, Yu 13, Caralipio 9, Batiller 7, Ular 6, Olivario 5, Reyson 4, Ambohot 3, Javillonar 1, Mina 0, Sangalang 0, Guarino 0
QUARTER SCORES: 28-18, 46-36, 69-64, 91-91, 102-101 (OT)
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