MANILA, Philippines – Bong Quinto knocked in the clutch baskets as the red-hot Letran Knights escaped fellow Final Four contender Perpetual Help Altas in an 82-80 thriller to streak to their sixth straight victory in the NCAA Season 94 men’s basketball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre on Friday, October 12.
The do-it-all Quinto again led his team with a game-high 22 points – including the Knights' last 3 points – on top of 9 rebounds and 5 assists.
With the win, the Knights (13-4) clinched the third seed in the playoffs as the Altas settled for fourth (11-6).
Both squads now face a tall task as they battle the twice-to-beat Lyceum Pirates (15-2) and defending champion San Beda Red Lions (15-1), who are set to jockey for top seeding next week.
Letran's JP Calvo also delivered 17 markers and dished a team-high 7 dimes in the key win.
After a go-ahead Edgar Charcos triple put Perpetual up, 80-79, Calvo made a crucial steal and dime to a streaking Quinto to retake the lead for Letran, 81-80, with 20.5 seconds left.
The Altas then failed to convert in the clutch as Quinto split his penalty free throws to ice the game.
Before that, no squad led by as many as 4 points in the final frame, with Kyt Jimenez creating that separation for Perpetual at the 7:30 mark after a corner triple. Both teams traded leads down the stretch from then on.
Rey Peralta paced Perpetual with a team-high 17 points off the bench. Charcos dropped 16 markers and a game-high 8 assists while MVP candidate Prince Eze chipped in his usual double-double of 14 points and 12 boards in a full 40-minute grind.
Letran 82 – Quinto 22, Calvo 17, Muyang 11, Ambohot 8, Batiller 8, Fajarito 6, Galvelo 3, Celis 3, Taladua 2, Balagasay 2, Yu 0, Mandreza 0.
Perpetual 80 – Peralta 17, Charcos 16, Eze 14, Jimenez 13, Razon 9, Coronel 8, Mangalino 3, Aurin 0, Cuevas 0.
Quarters: 23-18, 43-44, 63-63, 82-80.
*San Beda 15-1
* Final Four