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Letran draws first blood in NCAA finals

Dennis Acosta (file photo)
By Alex Cerado

PASAY—Colegio de San Juan de Letran pulled off a 94-90 victory over five-time defending champion San Beda College to take Game 1 of the best-of-three championship series at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday.

Kevin Racal sparkled for 28 points to lead three other Knights in double figures.

Rey Nambatac contributed 18, while Ant-Man Mark Cruz had 17 markers including crucial free throws with 14.4 seconds left to put his team on top, 92-87. 

With just 26 seconds remaining in the game, Ola Adeogun was fouled and sank two charities to cut the deficit to two, 87-89.

The Red Lions had no choice but to foul a Letran cager as time was on their opponent's side.

Cruz split his free throws, 90-87, but Adeogun turned the ball over in the next play which silence the red crowd.

Cruz made both of his free throws to give his team a five-point cushion, 92-87.

Dan Sara took matters on his hand and bucketed a three-pointer for San Beda, 90-92.

With no time out left, veteran point guard Baser Amer missed a trey to hand Letran the game, 90-94.

Letran is a game away of tasting the elusive championship in ten years.

Adeogun scored 23 in a losing effort for the Red Lions, while Koga and Sara racked up 20 points.

Game 2 of the series will happen on Tuesday with Letran eyeing to end San Beda's five-year supremacy. 

Box Scores:

Letran 94-Racal 28, Nambatac 18, Cruz 17, Luib 16, Sollano 9, Quinto 4, Balagasay 2, Apreku 0, Balanza 0, Calvo 0

San Beda 90-Adeogun 23, Koga 10, Sara 10, Soberano 9, Amer 8, Tankoua 8, Dela Cruz 7, Tongco 5, Mocon 4, Sorela 4, Presbitero 2