Letran halts San Beda’s four-peat hopes to claim NCAA coveted trophy
Letran is the new NCAA Season 95 titleholder.
The Knights outlasted San Beda Red Lions in a thrilling 81-79 victory in a decisive best-of-three Finals series to complete their underdog run in NCAA Season 95 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall Of Asia Arena on Tuesday, November 19.
The underdog Letran hoisted the men’s basketball championship for the first time since 2015 at the expense of arch rival San Beda – who were on its way for a six-peat title.
History repeated itself in front of almost 20,000 crowd when the Knights dethroned the defending champions which aimed to seek their four straight championship award.
Jerrick Balanza — who made his return this year after a brain tumor surgery — came through in his final NCAA game with 27 points on 5-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc, to go with seven rebounds and three assists.
Outgoing Bonbon Batiller, who missed a game-winning lay-up in Game 2, made a huge impact for Letran this time with 19 points.
Most Improved Player Fran Yu — who finished the game with eight points, seven assists, five rebounds, and three steals — was hailed as the Season 95 Finals MVP with Finals averages of 13.7 points, 6 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Just like in Games 1 and 2, Letran’s road to championship still didn’t come easy in the winner-takes-all Game 3 matchup.
Up by 79-73, San Beda pulled out a mini shocker in a form of Evan Nelle when he buried a three-point bomb with 44 ticks left in the final frame of the duel.
Finals MVP Yu showed his composure by converting two free shots, but Nelle still threatened the Knights with another triple with 11.7 seconds remaining.
Even when Yu and Batiller went down with a cramps, Balanza and King Caralipio made a huge defensive play when they trapped the San Beda facilitator from taking another go-ahead three, and the Knights saw themselves winning it all.
Only his first year as the head coach, Bonnie Tan saw himself winning his first championship trophy in NCAA.
Donald Tankoua paced San Beda with 22 points and seven rebounds while MVP Calvin Oftana also gave his all in the decisive game with 18 markers and eight boards.
Mythical members Nelle and James Canlas, meanwhile, had 11 points apiece.
Letran 81 – Balanza 27, Batiller 19, Ular 9, Yu 8, Muyang 6, Mina 6,Caralipio 4, Ambohot 2, Balagasay 0, Olivario 0, Javillonar 0, Sangalang 0.
San Beda 79 – Tankoua 22, Oftana 18, Canlas 11, Nelle 11, Doliguez 11, Carino 3, Soberano 3, Bahio 0, Abuda 0, Visser 0.
Quarter Scores: 26-24, 44-38, 69-59, 81-79.