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Letran puts cuffs on torpid Altas

Friday, 8 July 2011 37 Comments

TOURNAMENT host University of Perpetual Help System Dalta was playing its third game in seven days, and the fatigue clearly showed.

Their roster already shortened by eligibilty issues and injuries, the Altas had no legs against a Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights squad that turned the basketball game into a track meet, running their foes to the ground to the tune of 74-43 in NCAA Season 87 last July 8, 2011 at the Arena in San Juan.

The Knights, defending very aggressively, got 21 fastbreak points and 22 turnover points, pleasing head coach Louie Alas, who said after the game, “Na-sustain namin [the pressure defense] for 40 minutes.” VJ Espiritu led all scorers with a career-high 18 points in 20 minutes, while Kevin Alas added 10 points, five rebounds, five assists, and four swipes. Transferee Kevin Racal added 10 points of his own.

Two charities by Jett Vidal off a foul by Jonathan Belorio at the end of the first quarter prevented an early double-digit deficit lead, getting the Altas to within eight, 17-9. Perpetual Help didn’t score again until the 6:42 mark of the second, courtesy of a triple by Vidal, which served as his last basket of the game. The Altas continued to labor and could only tally 10 more points for the quarter. The Knights, meanwhile, rallied around Espiritu, who went off for three triples, crafting a 40-22 buffer for Letran to enjoy entering halftime.

In the third, Letran scored eight straight before Perpetual Help got on the board again, which was halfway through the period. Courtesy of a few possessions utilizing a full-court press of their own, the Altas were able to score a few points. But by then, the lead had stretched to 59-32 with a quarter left to play. After one last score by Espiritu that made it 61-34, coach Alas pulled his starters, and his reserves, led by rookie floor general Mark Cruz preserved and even extended the lead.

Vidal was the only Alta in double-digits with 10. Scottie Thompson added nine, and Chris Elopre finished with eight points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

The win was Letran’s second in as many starts after an opening day upset of the Mapúa Cardinals. “Tagal na kami hindi nanalo ng consecutive wins,” said Alas. “I told the team, if we hold them to 60 [points], we have a good chance. What more if we held them to 40?” The Letran defense was so solid that the Altas’ point total was the lowest in a single NCAA game in three years. The last time a squad notched less than 43 points was, ironically, Perpetual Help as well back in 2008 when it absorbed a 68-36 beating at the hands of the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Stags on August 13, 2008.

Perpetual Help slumped to 0-3. And unfortunately for the hosts, their schedule doesn’t get any easier any time soon as they’ll match up with the Stags on Monday, July 11, at 11:45 a.m.

The scores:

Letran 74 – Espiritu 18, K. Alas 10, Racal 10, Belorio 8, Cruz 7, Cortes 5, Dysam 4, Pantin 4, Mendoza 3, Lituania 3, Almazan 2, Gabriel 0, Cudal 0

Perpetual Help 43 – Vidal 10, Thompson 9, Elopre 8, Sumera 4, Jolangcob 4, Alano 3, Paulino 2, Asuncion 2, Sison 1, Arboleda 0, Tonggal 0, Parico 0

Quarter scoring: 17-9, 40-22, 59-32, 74-43

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