NCAA 95: On verge of title, coach exhorts Letran to ‘finish what we started’

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 12 2019 08:36 PM | Updated as of Nov 12 2019 09:41 PM

Breaking San Beda's winning streak was worth celebrating, but Letran coach Bonnie Tan and the Knights, a win away from the championship, know the job isn't complete. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines—Letran coach Bonnie Tan made sure that his team remained on an even keel after pulling off a massive upset of San Beda in Game 1 of the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball finals at Mall of Asia Arena on Tuesday.

The Knights came away with a gutsy 65-64 win over the Red Lions in the series opener, snapping San Beda's 32-game winning streak and spoiling their bid for a perfect campaign.

The win also put Letran on the brink of winning its first title since 2015, when the Knights dashed the Red Lions' hopes of clinching a sixth consecutive championship.

"Wala. Di pa rin tapos," Tan said after the win, which marked San Beda's first loss since August 2018.

"Although we have the momentum going to the game, mas lalo ngayon nakuha namin 'yung Game 1, sana di na pakawalan ng mga players."

The Knights have two days to prepare and anticipate the adjustments that San Beda will be making, with Game 2 scheduled at Mall of Asia Arena on Friday.

Letran flustered the Red Lions' offense in Game 1, limiting them to just 30.23% shooting from the field. Letran's zone defense paid dividends as well, as San Beda made just 6 out of a whopping 40 3-point attempts in the contest.

Tan is hopeful the Knights will have the same intensity and focus come Friday, when they try to wrap up the best-of-3 series.

"Sana lang, 'wag mag-overconfidence ang mga players natin, although we have the advantage right now," he said.

"Sana, maging focused sila and finish what they have started," he added. "'Yun lang ang ma-advice ko sa kanila, kasi oo, masaya tayo ngayon, pero 'wag nating sobrahan. Not too high, not too low. Let's enjoy the day, and focus again tomorrow sa practice." 

The Letran players were quick to get their coach's message, with skipper Jerrick Balanza stressing that they cannot enjoy their win too much.

"Siyempre, may isa pa," said Balanza, who hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 3:51 left to play. "Kailangan namin magtrabaho."

"Magsaya kami ngayon, bukas pokus na, bugbugan na ulit. Alam naman namin kasi hindi ibibigay ng San Beda ng madali 'yan eh," he added.

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