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Nambatac fires 40 to lead Letran over San Sebastian

By Ivan Saldajeno

SAN JUAN, MM--Letran rode behind the hot hands of Rey Nambatac to score their fourth straight win in the NCAA men's basketball tournament by trouncing San Sebastian, 90-77, at the FilOil Flying V Centre on Tuesday.

The graduating combo guard dropped 20 points in the first half and made another 20 in the second half for a total of 40, the highest single-player scoring performance by a Knight in four years.

Letran, however, needed a late push to repulse San Sebastian, who despite a sour second quarter stayed in step for most of the game.

The Golden Stags actually led, 28-23, after the first period, but the Knights limited them to only ten in the second and took a 43-38 advantage entering lemon time.

Both teams, which feature high-profile rookie coaches in multi-titled UAAP juniors basketball champion coach Jeff Napa and PBA D-League champion mentor Egay Macaraya, stayed within striking distance from each other before Napa's Letran squad finally broke loose with a crucial 13-3 run capped by back-to-back triples from McJour Luib.

Nambatac still provided a highlight reel in the end by converting a dipsy-doo layup against three San Sebastian players to cap the best scoring spree for a Letran player since Kevin Alas dropped 43 on the same San Sebastian squad on Oct. 13, 2012 during the Final Four.

Luib added 12 points, all on treys, while JP Calvo chipped in ten markers, five rebounds, and eight assists for the Knights, who are now within a half-game of the San Beda Red Lions and the Mapua Cardinals for the top spot in the team standings. The Cardinals are battling the Arellano Chiefs in an ongoing clash as of posting, while the Red Lions collide with the Perpetual Help Altas later Tuesday.

Regille Ilagan had his own explosion, tallying 23 points on five triples, but his Stags slipped to a four-way logjam with the Lyceum Pirates, the EAC Generals, and the JRU Heavy Bombers at 1-3.

Box Scores:

Letran 90-Nambatac 40, Luib 12, Balanza 11, Calvo 10, Sollano 7, Quinto 4, Ambohot 3, Pambid 3, Apreku 0, Balagasay 0, Bernabe 0, Sario 0

San Sebastian 77-Ilagan 23, Costelo 17, Capobres 11, Fabian 6, David 5, Valdez 2, Baetiong 2, Bulanadi 2, Calisaan 2, Johnson 2, Mercado 2, Gayosa 0, Quipse 0

Quarterscores: 23-28, 43-38, 63-57, 90-77

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno