Letran remains optimistic about NCAA title hopes

MANILA, Philippines – Despite suffering a 68-61 loss to San Beda College in Game 2 of the NCAA Season 91 best-of-3 championship series, Colegio de San Juan de Letran head coach Aldin Ayo remains optimistic that the Knights could still reach the Promised Land for the first time in 10 years.

Although Letran failed to close out the series in the Finals’ Game 2, the rookie coach from Sorsogon is still in high hopes of capturing the NCAA men’s senior basketball crown.

“We lost, but I am very optimistic coming on Game 3 because the effort was there,” said Ayo, who suited up for Letran during its back-to-back title run from 1998 to 1999.

Two of the biggest factors that led to Letran’s Game 2 setback versus San Beda were the team’s 24-of-83 shooting from the field and making only 8-of-16 free-throw efforts.

In addition, Letran was limited to 3 field goals in the fourth quarter, which came from two layups by Kevin Racal and McJour Luib’s 3-pointer.

Rey Nambatac botched his two trips to the foul line that could have inched Letran closer to San Beda, while John Paul Calvo and Luib split their respective charities.

To compound the misery, Mark Cruz and Racal missed their 3-point opportunity down the stretch, while Nambatac was caught out-of-bounce as he intended to launch a triple as well.

However, the Knights were able to force their longtime league rivals to commit 32 turnovers that the blue-and-red troop converted it into 22 markers.

“It is still our game,” Ayo stated. "San Beda made 32 turnovers, while we only had 11. Bottom line in basketball is which team to have the most points, and we are not that team in Game 2. Simple as that.”

When asked about Letran’s offensive meltdown, Ayo responded, “We have good looks in those three-point attempts by Mark Cruz and Kevin Racal. It all boils down on how focus you are in the game. Even if you have a bad form of shooting, but your focus is there, you will get a basket. It’s a mental thing.”

Even though San Beda has the championship experience entering the deciding Game 3, Ayo is positive regarding Letran’s chances in the do-or-die contest on Thursday, October 29.

“We are doing this for Letran, the whole community. We will do whatever it takes just to win the championship,” he ended. – Rappler.com