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Letran downs San Beda, forces decider

MANILA, Philippines - The Letran Knights proved in Game 2 that they have what it takes to take it all.

After getting brutally outplayed in Game 1, Letran’s shock-troopers stepped up to the plate with big hits to punch a 64-55 win, in the second game of the Season 88 NCAA best of three finals series at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Letran's Jonathan Belorio was the suprise star of the game after he hit crucial shots in the fourth quarter to lead the Knights with 15 points and 10 rebounds on 3/3 shooting from Caidic Country.

Belorio said that the painful Game 1 loss and their never-say-die attitude were what motivated them to force a rubber match.

Ginawa naming motivation yung Game 1 para manalo ngayon. Naging aggressive lang kami all throughout the game (We made Game 1 our motivation to win today. We were agressive all throughout the game),” he said. “Napatunayan namin na kayang-kaya naming talunin itong San Beda na ito (We proved that we can really beat San Beda)."

San Beda’s loss was their first in the Finals since 2009.

Tight defense

Belorio capped off a backbreaking 19-9 run by the Knights with a humongous shot beyond the arc to turn a two-point deficit at the start of the pay-off period to a 60-52 advantage with 2:57 remaining in the game. Letran’s main man Alas, who was quiet the whole game, also sparked the Knights’ run with two timely and ones that kept San Beda at bay.

Letran’s supporting cast played a big part to keep the lead on their side for most of the first half as they shut down the Lions’ main guns.

Belorio and Carlo Lithuania contributed in sputters scoring 9 points each in the first half to compensate for Alas’ lack of production, who was limited to just 4 points. Letran’s bigs outdueled their counterparts on the boards as the Knights walked to the dugout with a 32-19 rebounding advantage, with 15 of their caroms coming offensively.

Hinigpitan lang talaga naming yun defense namin (We just tightened up on defense)," Lithuania said about their lead at the half. “Gigil na gigil lang kaming talunin itong San Beda na ito (We just want to beat this San Beda team badly).”

Comeback averted

Kyle Pascual was the lone bright spot for the Lions in the first two quarters as the sophomore big man kept the pride afloat with 9 points on bull-strong moves in the paint.

The Red Lions looked poised to close out the series coming out of the half, as their stingy defense limited the Knights’ anemic offense to only four points in the third quarter.

Ola Adeogun sparked the pride on both sides of the ball as he dropped 8 points on power post moves inside the paint to go along with numerous changed shots. Anjo Caram’s playmaking was also big in San Beda’s rally that turned a 9-point halftime deficit into a 43-41 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The decisive Game 3 is on Thursday, October 25, at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. - Rappler.com