Knights earn twice-to-beat edge

LETRAN vented its ire on Perpetual Help and hammered out a 93-64 victory yesterday to clinch a Final Four berth and a twice-to-beat advantage in the 91st NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.

Mark Cruz and Kevin Racal unloaded 18 and 15 points, respectively, but the two had most of the damage in the first half when the Knights put the Altas away to secure the former a place in the Top 2, alongside the San Beda Red Lions on 13-5 marks.

“We just came out aggressive,” said Letran coach Aldin Ayo.

The Knights will have a chance to avenge their 73-77 defeat to the Lions recently as the two collide on Tuesday at the MOA Arena for the top seeding.

The Altas, in contrast, fell to their seventh defeat against 11 wins and out of the Final Four.

Jose Rizal, Mapua and Arellano wound up tied for third to fifth spot, but the Bombers ended up with the highest quotient score of 20 and will book the third Final Four berth as the Cardinals (-1) and the Chiefs (-20) fight it out on Tuesday for the No. 4 slot.

The winner of the Mapua-Arellano game will then face Jose Rizal on Thursday also at the MOA Arena for the No. 3 seeding.

John Pontejos drilled in 23 points to lead the Heavy Bombers to a 91-69 smothering of the San Sebastian Stags, 91-69, and into their 12th win in 18 games at the end of the first round.

The Mapua Cardinals moved into a share of the same record with the Heavy Bombers, with Allwell Oraeme firing 26 points and hauling down 15 rebounds in their 88-63 swamping of the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals.

In the junior action, the Mapua Red Robins drew double-digit outputs from three mainstays in their 90-74 demolition of the EAC-ICA Brigadiers.

Sherwin Concepcion struck with 26 points while Jasper Salenga and Michael Enriquez gave 23 and 12 points to help Mapua formally earn the first stepladder semis berth with their 16-2 slate.

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