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Letran pulls upset against NU to clinch FilOil playoffs berth

By Ivan Saldajeno

SAN JUAN, MM—Letran, which miss last year's NCAA Final Four, stunned reigning UAAP champion NU, 59-56, in their FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup match at the FilOil Flying V Arena on Wednesday.

Leading by seven, 32-25, at halftime, the Knights found themselves just ahead of the Bulldogs by two, 54-52, with 1:23 remaining.

The Knights nearly lost the lead as they turned the ball over to the Bulldogs in their offensive. But Kyles Neypes missed his layup and Rev Diputado also muffed his follow-up.

Mark Cruz added a point to the Letran lead by splitting his free throws with 40.5 seconds left.

J-Jay Alejandro hit a field goal in the next play, and the lead was down to one, 55-54, with 22.4 seconds remaining.

McJour Luib made a bad pass in the next inbound play, giving NU a shot for the win.

But Felix Apreku stole the ball from NU and made a layup to put the lead back to 3, 57-54, with 11.9 seconds left.

Pao Javelona kept the Bulldogs in the game by making two free throws with 8.7 seconds to go.

Mark Cruz answered with two charities of his own to stretch the gap to three anew with 7.4 seconds remaining.

With NU out of timeouts, Reden Celda ran the full length of the court and launched a desperate three-pointer that only hit the rim before time expired.

Cruz finished with 16 points, four rebounds, two assists, and three steals for Letran, which will move on to the quarterfinals. Apreku hit a double-double with 13 points and ten rebounds with two assists and a steal.

Celda had 15 points, four rebounds, and two steals for NU, which fell to a tie for fourth place in Group A with FEU.

Box Scores:

Letran 59-Cruz 16, Apreku 13, Sollano 12, Quinto 7, Publico 7, Calvo 4, Luib 0, Manlangit 0, Dela Peña 0

NU 56-Celda 15, Alejandro 13, Diputado 7, Javelona 7, Neypes 5, Javillonar 3, Gaye 2, Abatayo 2, Morido 2, Rangel 0, Salim 0, Senining 0

Quarterscores, 15-15, 32-25, 42-38, 59-56