AGAINST a team which had won championships the past five seasons, the Letran Knights need to start strong and pour in more points, especially in the endgame.
Letran coach Aldin Ayo made this clear minutes after the Knights dropped an 68-61 decision to the five-time champion San Beda Red Lions, who tied the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball finals at one win apiece.
The Knights, who took Game 1, 94-90, actually were still in the fight in the first three quarters, only to falter in the stretch, as they missed basket after basket in the final three minutes.
“Bottomline. Kung sino ang pinakaraming puntos, siya ang mananalo,” Ayo said.
Game 3 is set at 4 p.m., at the Mall of Asia Arena with the Knights looking to end a 10-year title drought, and the Red Lions aspiring to annex an unprecedented sixth straight men’s senior title.
Despite the win, San Beda coach Jamike Jarin reminded the Red Lions to stick to their respective roles and the system in place.
“It’s a matter of saying it. It has to start from each person that you have to embrace your responsibility and not be allowed to get beat. That’s how we started and I hope we maintain it,” said Jarin, who expects Game 3 to be another down-to-the-wire finish.
The Red Lions in Game 2 shot the ball well, hitting 56 percent of their field-goal attempts. In contrast, Knights finished with an paltry 29 percent.
In the juniors’ side, the Arellano Braves attempts to post another win against the Red Cubs when Game 2 of their finals series set at 2 p.m.
In Game 1, Guilmer de la Torre and Carlo Abadeza combined for 31 points to lead the Braves to an 72-68 upset of the defending champion San Beda Red Cubs.
The Braves, however, need another win to tie the series against the Red Cubs, who have a thrice-to-beat advantage.
The Braves’ victory, however, snapped San Beda’s winning run after 19 consecutive victories.
“Sa start pa lang,sabi ko sa kanila, kailangan strong. Mahirap kasi talunin ang isang team na ilang taon nang nagcha-champion. Kung magiging matino ka, stick sa defense, may possibility na tatalunin namin,” said Braves coach Tylon Darjuan.