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Ateneo squeaks past Letran in SBP Invitationals

Mason Amos led Ateneo's charge in the champion-versus-champion battle against Letran. Kennelf Monteza
By John Rhey Piamonte

MANILA—After trailing the majority of the game, Ateneo de Manila University took flight in the fourth with a string of well-executed schemes to escape the gritty Colegio de San Juan de Letran, in a close 90-85 victory, in the SBP Invitational Games, Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 

Spearheading the fightback, Mason Amos paced the Blue Eagles with a team-high 16 points, four rebounds, and two assists. 

It was a tight contest between the reigning champions of the country’s premiere collegiate leagues with Letran managing to enter the last quarter up by two points, 68-66. 

Finding strength when it mattered the most, Matthew De Luna answered coach Tab Baldwin’s call as he ignited the fourth-quarter rally, knocking down a crucial triple to give the lead to the Blue Eagles, 71-70. 

The trio of Amos, Jared Brown, and Lebron Nieto then followed suit with timely baskets for the Katipunan-based squad. 

Ateneo completely flipped the switch in the second half as they tightened up their defense and forced Letran to commit a series of decisive turnovers that eventually caused them the game. 

The Blue Eagles scored 33 points off the Knights’ turnovers. 

Brown notched 14 markers while Nieto added 10, including a pair of pivotal free throws in the end game for Ateneo. 

Knights team captain Kurt Reyson tallied a game-high 25 points, alongside five rebounds, three assists, and one steal, in a losing effort. 

Kobe Monje also had an impressive shooting game for Letran as he finished with 20 points. 

The Blue Eagles-Knights game is one of four games the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas held that serve as simulations in preparation for the country’s hosting of the FIBA World Cup that will take place from Aug. 25-Sept. 10.

Follow him on Twitter: @rhey_piamonte

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