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MANILA, Philippines – The Letran Knights brace for a Mapua Cardinals fightback on Sunday, May 22, as they seek to complete a perfect NCAA Season 97 run with a finals sweep in men’s basketball at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
A victory in the 3 pm match will also complete a perfect 12-0 campaign for the Knights in the shortened season. Letran’s longtime rival San Beda was the last team to produce an undefeated season, posting an 18-0 record in 2010.
Claiming back-to-back championships – and the 19th overall – won’t be easy for the Knights, however as coach Bonnie Tan remains concerned about the fitness of the team’s heart and soul Rhenz Abando as they seek to close out the Cardinals.
Abando went down with a left foot injury after a highlight putback dunk in the third period of Letran’s 68-63 victory over Mapua in Game 1 last Sunday, May 15, and his status remains uncertain.
The Cardinals were leading most of the way until the Knights led in the final 45 seconds with Jeo Ambohot leading the charge.
“Heart of a champion. I said that this is the game we’ve all been waiting for. Let us not waste all our sacrifices in the last two months,” said Tan in Filipino.
The Game 1 setback should be an eye-opener for Mapua to take good care of the lead. The Cardinals were poised to pull off a reversal, but could not get the job done in moments that mattered.
Game 3, if necessary, will be played next Sunday, May 29, at a bigger venue: the Mall of Asia Arena.
Prior to the Game 2 tipoff, the NCAA will also fete the finest Season 97 standouts
Aside from the season MVP award, which Abando is poised to take home, the league will also honor the Mythical Team, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Defensive Team and Defensive Player of the Year. – Rappler.com