Letran wins first title in ten years with OT stunner over San Beda

Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY—Just when 20,158 people at the Mall of Asia Arena thought Letran will walk away with its 17th NCAA men's basketball title, San Beda nearly stole the trophy from the team.

Jom Sollano came to the rescue.

Sollano scored the go-ahead basket late in the overtime period as the Knights ended a ten-year wait with an 85-82 victory against the Red Lions in the last game of the NCAA finals series on Thursday night.

Sollano made a baseline jumper with 32.3 seconds left in extra time as Letran staved off a late collapse.

The Knights led by eight, 75-67, with 1:53 to go in the fourth quarter.

But the Red Lions went on an 8-0 run in the final 1:47 of regulation to force the extension.

McJour Luib opened overtime with a layup off a steal, but Javee Mocon tied the game anew with two charities in the next play.

Mark Cruz scored on an undergoal stab to put Letran back on top, 79-77, with 3:46 left.

San Beda then scored five straight points to take an 82-79 edge with 1:27 remaining.

Kevin Racal converted two free throws in the next offensive, and his team's defense forced a 24-second infraction on San Beda.

Cruz then saw Sollano open from the left corner for what would be the winning play.

The Lions missed two field goals in their possession.

Sollano, however, only made a split from the line after a quick foul.

The Knights got the ball back after a double lane violation was called with the possession arrow pointing to them.

Cruz made a split of his own from the charity stripe, but Michole Sorela failed to release his halfcourt heave in time, putting the Letran side in celebration.

Racal finished with 23 points, while Sollano made 9-of-12 field goals for 19.

Cruz, who was later named the Finals MVP, contributed 14 markers, six rebounds, and seven assists.

Arth Dela Cruz flirted with a triple-double after going 15-13-8 along with two blocks and one steal for San Beda, which failed to win its sixth straight title.

Box Scores:

Letran 85-Racal 23, Sollano 19, Cruz 14, Nambatac 13, Luib 5, Quinto 4, Publico 4, Calvo 2, Apreku 1, Balanza 0

San Beda 82-Dela Cruz 15, Amer 14, Mocon 14, Adeogun 13, Sara 9, Tankoua 6, Koga 5, Tongco 4, Soberano 2, Sorela 0, Cabanag 0, Reyes 0, Presbitero 0, Sedillo 0

Quarterscores: 20-12, 40-39, 54-52, 75-75, 85-82