Letran survives Benilde fightback, hands Blazers first loss

Colegio de San Juan de Letran saw its huge lead disappear, but the three-peat seeking Knights flaunted championship poise to frustrate De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, 81-75, in NCAA Season 98 on Friday.

Letran led by as many as 15 in the third but Benilde came back to make it a single possession game before Fran Yu nailed a crucial basket for a 79-75 spread with 54.1 ticks left.

Louie Sangalang then came up with a huge block on Will Gozum before King Caralipio stole the leather from Miggy Corteza. Kurt Reyson and Brent Paraiso then split their freebies to seal the win.



Letran, which bounced back from a previous loss to Arellano University, improved to 2-1 while Benilde saw its perfect start snapped at 3-1.

Paraiso led the Knights with 25 points, including 4-of-5 from three-point range, while Yu had a great all-around effort with 12 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and six steals.

Both teams flaunted their offensive prowess in the first half of action, which ended with the Knights ahead by just four points, 50-46.

Paraiso sizzled from deep early as he fired all of his four triples to reach the 23-point mark after just two quarters.

Benilde, who was missing gunner Migs Oczon, led by five late in the second, 38-33, but Letran banked on a strong close out to regain the lead heading to the locker room.

But Letran turned things around in the third as the defending champions unleashed a 12-0 run capped by a Sangalang basket to create a 67-54 separation.

Benilde then staged a fightback in the fourth, pulling to within two courtesy of a 13-6 run, 75-77, after a Gozum bucket with 2:31 left but Letran maintained its composure in the endgame.

Gozum posted 23 points and 10 rebounds in a big game for Benilde, but the Blazers could not get the job done.

Letran returns to action on Tuesday against last season's finalist Mapua University while Benilde takes on Jose Rizal University on Sunday.

The scores:

Letran 81 - Paraiso 25, Yu 12, Javillonar 10, Monje 10, Caralipio 8, Reyson 6, SAntos 6, Sangalang 4, Ariar 0, Olivario 0, Bautista 0.

Benilde 75 - Gozum 23, Corteza 18, Nayve 10, Lepalam 10, Cullar 7, Sangco 4, Pasturan 2, Flores 1, Marcos 0, Dimayuga 0.

Quarters: 25-23, 50-46, 71-62, 81-75.

—JMB, GMA News

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