collegiate basketball

Letran spoils all-UAAP preseason final four cast

Rob Andrew Dongiapon

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Letran spoils all-UAAP preseason final four cast

YOUNG GUN. Letran’s Jonathan Manalili dishes a pass against UE defenders in preseason action.


Undermanned Letran winds up as the lone NCAA team in the preseason basketball final four, joining UAAP champion La Salle, UP, and FEU

MANILA, Philippines –Shorthanded and all, Letran still wound up as the only NCAA team left standing. 

Despite missing key players, the Knights survived UAAP’s UE Red Warriors, 70-66, to become the lone NCAA team to enter the FilOIl EcoOIl Preseason Cup semifinals on Saturday, June 8. 

The victory spoiled an all-UAAP semifinal cast as Letran advanced along with La Salle, University of the Philippines, and Far Eastern University.

Letran dug deep in its roster to pull the come-from-behind win as team captain Deo Cujao took charge with 22 points, while former high school standout Jonathan Manalili put up 19 markers, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists to carry the load for the Knights. 

Entering the playoffs as the NCAA bracket’s top seed, Letran missed the services of veterans Kobie Monje, Pao Javillionar, Kint Ariar, and Jimboy Estrada. 

Also handicapped by NCAA’s rule of prohibiting foreign student-athletes (FSA), Letran had to put extra bodies on UE’s FSA and UAAP Season 86 Rookie of the Year Precious Momowei. 

“Some of our key players were absent, so I just said, ‘This is the best opportunity for you guys, so make the most of it,’” said new Knights head coach Allen Ricardo, who inherited the squad from coach Rensy Bajar. 

Ricardo was the architect of the Letran Squires’ two-peat in Seasons 98 and 99 that ended the school’s decade-long title drought in the NCAA’s junior ranks. 

“Nevertheless, of course, what we aim here is to learn going to the season,” Ricardo added as he looks to bring back the winning culture in Letran’s seniors team after only notching two wins in 18 games of Season 99. 

On the other hand, Momowei struggled to deal with the Knights’ physicality as he was held to just 10 points, 14 rebounds, and a lackluster 4-of-14 field goal clip along with 8 turnovers.

John Abate led the way for UE with 14 points, while Rain Maga added 13 markers including back-to-back jumpers in the fourth quarter that gave the Red Warriors a four-point lead in the fourth quarter. 

Trailing by 9 points at halftime, the Knights kept within striking distance in the third quarter before surviving UE’s last-gasp effort in the final quarter through Manalili and Cuajao’s timely baskets en route to victory. 

The Knights will face the La Salle Green Archers in the semifinals after the UAAP Season 86 champions dominated reigning NCAA champion San Beda Red Lions, 94-80, later in the day. 

Meanwhile, the FEU Tamaraws denied the St. Benilde Blazers’ semifinal hopes after Jorick Bautista drained a game-winning three at the buzzer to pull off a thrilling 74-73 escape to advance to the final four. 

FEU will go toe-to-toe against UAAP bracket’s top seed UP Fighting Maroons after they outclassed the Mapua Cardinals, 94-75. 

The semifinal games are scheduled on Sunday, June 9, starting at 4 pm.

The Scores

First Game

Letran 70 – Cuajao 22, Manalili 19, Galoy 10, Go 4, Nunag 4, Dimaano 3, Baliling 3, Montecillo 2, Pradela 2, Jumao-As 1.

UE 66 – Abate 14, Maga 13, Momowei 10, Galang 9, Mulingtapang 6, Spandonis 6, Cruz-Dumont 4, Lingolingo 3, Robles 1, Niric 0, Malaga 0.

Quarters: 20-23, 36-44, 55-58, 70-66.

Second Game

FEU 74 – Pre 20, Pasaol 19, Konateh 15, Daa 6, Bautista 5, Alforque 4, Godinez 3, Ona 2, Bagunu 0, Felipe 0, Montemayor 0.

Benilde 73 – Ancheta 20, Ynot 16, Liwag 10, Morales 7, Torres 7, Turco 4, Sangco 3, Cometa 2, Ondoa 2, Eusebio 2, Cajucom 0.

Quarters: 21-21, 36-41, 50-53, 74-73.

Third Game

UP 94 – Lopez 16, Udodo 15, Torculas 13, Briones 10, Alter 8, Abadiano 7, Cagulangan 7, Alarcon 6, Stevens 6, Bayla 4, Belmonte 2, Torres 0, Walker 0. 

Mapua 75 – Escamis 21, Fermin 12, Recto 11, Cuenco 5, Bancale 5, Hubilla 5, Mangubat 5, Jabonete 4, Abdulla 4, Pabilona 2, Concepcion 1, Igliane 0, Pantaleon 0.

Quarters: 18-12, 44-27, 70-48, 94-75.

Fourth Game

La Salle 94 – Quiambao 15, Cortez 12, Dungo 12, Austria 11, Abadam 10, Marasigan 8, Macalalag 6, Agunanne 5, Policarpio 4, Ramiro 4, Buenaventura 3, Rubico 2, Romero 2, Gaspay 0. 

San Beda 80 – Sajonia 15, Payosing 10, Andrada 10, Jalbuena 10, Tagle 9, Calimag 9, Bonzalida 8, Gonzales 3, Estacio 2, Hawkins 2, Celzo 2, R. Calimag 0, Tagala 0, Torres 0, Royo 0. 

Quarters: 31-25, 56-39, 83-59, 94-80.


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