Bong Quinto hit a go-ahead basket with 12.6 seconds left to lift the Letran Knights over the Perpetual Help Altas, 63-61, in NCAA Season 93 action on Friday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
With the win, the Knights have now won three straight games to improve to a 4-3 record.
“A win is a win pero yung tempo kasi ng laro, hindi pabor para samin eh,” said a relieved Jeff Napa after the game. “Luckily nakuha ng mga bata. Give credit sa mga bata talaga, talagang nagtrabaho sila para makuha yung panalo.”
As Napa observed, the game was a grind-it-out affair against a resilient Perpetual Help team. The halftime score read 24-19, an indication of the slow-paced contest. The scoring, however, would pick up quickly come the final period. Both teams combined for 49 points in the last ten minutes in a back-and-forth battle.
The Knights were down by five, 56-61, with two and a half minutes left after the Altas’ Prince Eze knocked down two free throws. As it turned out, it was the Altas’ last two points. A bucket by Quinto and a three-pointer by JP Calvo knotted things up at 61 apiece with 1:33 remaining.
Quinto was able to hit the game-winning basket in the succeeding Knights possession despite getting accidentally elbowed off an Eze miss. The Knights would eventually hold on as the Altas failed to convert towards the end. Quinto finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.
“Medyo nagfo-focus na yung defense ng kalaban kay Rey (Nambatac) so ako, naisip ko na syempre kailangan ko makatulong. Siguro nagkataon lang na sakin dumating yung bola,” Quinto humbly said about his performance. His teammate Nambatac was hounded all game by the Perpetual defense, making only 12 points on 3-for-11 shooting.
“Magandang chance to dahil nga third straight win na namin so unti-unti nakukuha namin yung rhythm namin, kumpyansa namin sa team,” shared Nambatac, who also tallied 15 rebounds.
The San Beda Red Lions and San Sebastian Stags were also victorious on Friday.
The Stags notched their third win of the season after a 101-71 rout over the St. Benilde Blazers. Mike Calisaan had a game-high 20 points, missing only one shot in eight attempts, and grabbed six rebounds. Alfren Gayosa also provided 15 points and six boards.
The Stags’ 101-point total is the highest so far this season. They enjoyed a lead as high as 36, 96-60, late in the fourth period thanks to their hot shooting. They shot 54 percent from the field, including 10-for-27 from the beyond the arc.
“Ang sa amin lang naman is at least maganda yung shooting percentage namin ngayon, ang ganda ng score,” coach Egay Macaraya beamed.
The Blazers suffered its fifth loss of the season despite Unique Naboa scoring 17 points and Edward Dixon chippin in with 15 points and seven rebounds. The Blazers equally knocked down 10 three-pointers but went sour from the foul line, going 17-for-36. They also had their work cut out for them on the defensive end, allowing the Stags to shoot effectively from the field.
The San Beda Red Lions, meanwhile, won their fifth straight game, getting a 66-55 victory over the Mapua Cardinals. Donald Tankoua paced the defending champions with 11 points and 16 rebounds while Javee Mocon added 10 points and six boards.
Coincidentally, it was also the fifth straight loss for Mapua who continue their struggles with the absence of star Andoy Estrella due to a knee injury. Leo Gabo meanwhile only played four minutes because he was hobbled with an ankle sprain. Christian Bunag did all he could with his monster performance of 20 points, 18 rebounds, and four blocks, but his efforts were not enough to help his team stop its losing skid.
“Sayang lang na injured yung top players ni Coach Atoy (Co) especially Estrella and Gabo. If they played the way they played in the fourth quarter, I think they have a capable chance of beating us,” pointed out head coach Boyet Fernandez.
The Red Lions led by as much as 25 points in the lopsided affair but the Cardinals showed life in the fourth quarter. They even cut the deficit to nine points in the dying minutes, but time unfortunately ran out on them.
“If we want to win the championship, because right now we’re behind LPU, we just have to take care of ourselves,” the coach stressed.
The wins by the Knights (4-3), Stags (3-3), and Red Lions (6-1), improved them into the upper tier of the team standings.