The Letran Knights made sure that they will get their rightful spot in the Final Four.
Larry Muyang led four teammates in a balanced show of scoring prowess, helping propel the Letran Knights to an 89-79 beating of the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals yesterday in the 95th National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament at the FilOil-Flying V Sports Center.
Muyang showed the way with 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Knights, who ended their elimination-round campaign in third place with a 12-6 win-loss record.
The Knights, who drew 20 points from Jerrick Balanza, have joined top-seeded San Beda University and Lyceum of the Philippines University in the Final Four.
The San Sebastian Stags (10-7) and the Mapua Cardinals (9-8) are still contesting the fourth seeding.
An 11-0 run in the opening minutes of the fourth period, which Balanza triggered with his triple, came after the Knights broke past a 58-all deadlock.
With Edson Batiller and Fran Yu firing 15 and 10 points, respectively, the Knights went on to grab a 73-60 edge at the sixth-minute mark.
“Lahat sila gusto mag-Top 2. Pero iba iyung napuntahan namin. I told them this is not about the standings, but about how we finish,” said Knights’ coach Bonnie Tan.
Earlier, Jay Ynot had 18 points for the top-seeded San Beda Red Cubs in their 111-82 demolition of the Lyceum Junior Pirates in the Junior Division.
Slightly ahead, 42-38, at halftime, the Red Cubs clamped down on their defense against Junior Pirates McLaude Guadana and John Barba, who were held to just five and four points, respectively, in the third as San Beda went on to take a 76-53 edge at the end of the period.
The Red Cubs (17-1) have formally earned the top seeding, while the Junior Pirates (11-7) could still lose the no. 2 spot to the Arellano Braves (10-7), the San Sebastian Staglets (10-7)and the La Salle Greenhills Greenies (10-7).
The Letran Squires (8-10), with Joshua Ramirez making 18 points, won over EAC-ICA, 92-74.
“Sabi ko kanila, kahit no-bearing na ang game, kailangan ay pang-playoff na ang mindset natin. Kaya ‘di nila inisip na no-bearing ang game,” said Red Cubs’ Manu Inigo.
Justin Sanchez eked out 16 points for the Red Cubs, while Rhayyan Amsali added 14 points and 12 rebounds.Donald Tankoua delivered 26 points for the defending champion San Beda Red Lions, who turned back the Lyceum Pirates, 85-62, and completed an 18-game sweep of the elimination round.
Calvin Oftana banged in 18 points for the Red Lions, who matched the 18-0 sweep of the Pirates at the end of the eliminations in Season 93 and claimed an automatic finals’ slot.
The Red Lions last took an outright championship berth back in Season 86, with a 16-0 sweep of the elims with Frankie Lim coaching the team.