Letran outlasted University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, 77-75, to advance to the finals for the second straight season in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The fourth-ranked Altas gave the back-to-back title-seeking Knights everything to handle before falling short of their bid of sending the Final Four to a deciding game.
Jielo Razon missed a potential game-winning triple in the dwindling seconds, allowing Letran to extend its perfect run to 10 games.
Rhenz Abando matched his career-high 24 points highlighted by a couple of crowd-pleasing slam dunks to go with three rebounds, two assists and two steals while Jeo Ambohot produced a double-double effort of 14 points and 14 boards for the Knights.
Letran will face the winner of the other Final Four duel between Mapua and San Beda in the best-of-three championship starting on Sunday.
Fran Yu had 13 points, including a free throw that gave the Knights a two-point lead in the final 7.4 seconds, five rebounds and three assists.
It was an end of an improbable journey for Perpetual, which hurdled Arellano University and College of Saint Benilde in the play-in stage to arrange a semifinal duel with Letran.
The Altas almost pulled it off without forward Kim Aurin, who missed the second straight game due to chickenpox.
Razon led Perpetual with 21 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, while Jeff Egan added 14 points, four assists and two steals for Perpetual.
Having beaten their opponents by an average of 13 points in the eliminations, the Knights’ two-point victory against the Altas is their smallest winning margin this season.