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Fran Yu, Letran keep CSB reeling in stretch run of NCAA 95

Colegio de San Juan de Letran stayed cool, calm, and collected in a tight tiff with College of St. Benilde, Tuesday at Filoil Flying V Centre, before striking a hardfought 87-74 decision. The Knights leaned on both brains and brawn for a second consecutive victory and ninth overall in 13 games in the NCAA 95 Men’s Basketball Tournament. "Yung mindset namin going into the game, nag-prepare talaga kami rito. Ayaw namin yung papakawalan yung ganitong klaseng laro because all games are very important," head coach Bonnie Tan said post-game. Fran Yu hammered down the final nails in the Blazers’ coffin, scoring all but four of his team’s 12 points in the last three minutes. The two teams, in a dead heat for the second to fifth spots in the standings, were going at it for majority of the matchup and the Blazers were only down by five, 70-75, at the 4:15 mark of the final frame. Not long after, however, main man Justin Gutang picked up three fouls in one minute and found himself forced to return and remain on the bench. There, Gutang witnessed Yu run roughshod on CSB all by his lonesome, hitting five of his six shots from the free throw line as well as a wide open triple that proved to be the backbreaker. The veteran guard wound up with 19 points on top of eight assists and four rebounds while Ato Ular topped the scoring column with 20 markers and eight boards. Bonbon Batiller and Larry Muyang were also there to help out with the heavy lifting as the former finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals while the latter ended with 10 markers and six boards. With the win, Letran got some much-needed separation from fourth-running and 7-5 San Sebastian College-Recoletos as well as the fifth-running and now 6-6 Blazers. Yankie Haruna was the lone double-digit scorer for the green and white with 19 points to go along with five rebounds and three assists. Gutang had nine markers, six boards, and three dimes to his name before fouling out. BOX SCORES LETRAN 87 - Ular 20, Yu 19, Batiller 13, Muyang 10, Balanza 8, Ambohot 6, Caralipio 5, Olivario 4, Mina 2, Balagasay 0, Reyson 0, Javillonar 0 CSB 74 - Haruna 19, Gutang 9, Dixon 7, Carlos 6, Leutcheu 6, Naboa 6, Young 6, Belgica 6, Sangco 4, Nayve 3, Flores 2 QUARTER SCORES: 24-17, 36-40, 64-61, 87-74 —— Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnSep 24th, 2019

NCAA 95: Fran Yu will drive Letran to the title says Tenorio

LA Tenorio knows a thing or two about point guards leading a team to the championship. And for the Ginebra star and current assistant coach for Letran, Fran Yu will be the driving force if the Knights are to knock off San Beda for the NCAA Season 95 championship. The spitfire Yu almost did just that in Game 2 last week, putting Letran in position to sweep the champion Red Lions. Unfortunately, untimely cramps cut off Yu's momentum and the former Palarong Pambasa MVP ended his magical performance with 23 points, five assists, and two rebounds as the Red Lions pounced on his absence to force a 1-1 tie in a best-of-3 series. "Nag-cramps nga lang siya. Sayang lang," Tenorio said of Yu. "We really need him, especially the endgame to control the game. Siya talaga eh. Sa kaniya talaga nagsisimula eh, pag nagsimula sa kaniya, nahahawa yung buong team. He’s the barometer of the team," he added. Tenorio missed Game 2 as he had to play for the Gin Kings in the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup. But before Game 2 of the Finals, he singled out Yu via text message saying the 5'10" guard should take charge for Letran. Yu was sensational for a stretch that bridged the third and fourth quarters in Game 2, allowing the Knights to take over despite a huge 18-3 start by San Beda. With Yu's work, Letran was one lay-up away from the championship. As the Finals moves to a deciding Game 3, LA's message still stands. If the Knights are to regain the NCAA championship, Fran Yu will lead them there. "Parang naisip ko lang na i-text siya. Out of nowhere, tinext ko siya kanina na siya yung magdadala ng team to the championship, not our veterans. He’s the point guard, he’s going to lead this team to the championship," Tenorio said. "Yun yung sinabi ko sa kaniya, tinext ko siya na siya ang magdadala, I want him to get the ball every time, especially kapag nagkakagulo. He’s a crucial part of our team, no doubt," LA added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 18th, 2019

THROWBACK: The stunning San Beda-Letran Finals face-off in Season 91

With yet another important milestone in its more than a decade-long dominance in the NCAA, the San Beda University Red Lions seek their fourth straight men’s basketball crown in Season 95. But in their roar to four, San Beda would face not just an old rival, but also a heartbreaking tormentor in the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, which denied them a colossal, record-setting six-peat in Season 91.  While carrying a spotless 18-0 slate behind MVP Calvin Oftana, Evan Nelle, James Canlas-Kwekuteye and coach Boyet Fernandez that forced the stepladder semifinals, wherein Letran emerged as the rightful finals contender, carried by skipper Jerrick Balanza, Fran Yu, Larry Muyang, and coach Bonnie Tan, with victories over San Sebastian and Lyceum, San Beda would dread a repeat of that debacle.  But definitely, the veteran Knight Balanza, moreso AC Soberano and Donald Tankoua of the present San Beda roster, along with the 20,158 individuals inside the venue couldn’t forget that long, grueling championship night on October 29, 2015 at the Mall of Asia Arena. Storied nemeses They were already part of their respective varsity rosters, with the Knights coached then by Aldin Ayo and the Red Lions mentored at that time by Jamike Jarin, when the storied nemeses met in Game 3 of the Season 91 Finals that fateful Thursday. In each of their two previous successive Finals meetings in Seasons 88 and 89 with mostly the same lineup, the Knights would bow in three games to the Red Lions, which claimed their third and fourth consecutive titles since 2010. The first San Beda-Letran NCAA Finals match in half a century happened in 2007, with San Beda winning the crown—the Red Lions’ second straight title then after a 28-year title drought. After San Beda took its fifth straight title at the expense of the Arellano Chiefs in 2014, Letran got the chance to face the Red Lions again in the Finals of Season 91, and they would go all-out to stop their bitter rival’s date with history. A six-peat? No way, the Knights would assert in their march onto the Best-of-Three with a more formidable team under the new aggressive young coach Ayo, a former Letran player, in their bid to notch its first NCAA finals victory over the Red Lions since the heydays of the Lauro Mumar vs Carlos Loyzaga duel in the 1950s. And in the Season 91 Finals, Letran took the first game, 94-90, but San Beda emerged victorious in the second, 68-61, arranging the winner-take-all. Moment of truth When that moment of truth came, the Red Lions were reenergized with their Game 2 win and became confident in snagging that sixth straight title. Faced with this, however, the Knights remained solid and unperturbed in their iron-clad “Mayhem” armor. True enough, San Beda was shut out of focus in the beginning, as the Knights romped with a raging run-and-gun, leaving the Red Lions scoreless in a key stretch, 8-0, for a 16-7 early lead. Javee Mocon and Michole Sorela would finally provide the needed stops and lead a spirited comeback for the Red Lions. But Letran’s Rey Nambatac would drop a clutch basket to give the Knights an eight-point advantage at the end of the first quarter, 20-12. JP Calvo would continue Letran’s scorching offense in the second quarter, instigating a 10-0 run in the first minutes. But San Beda will answer a 5-0 spurt of its own behind Tankoua and Soberano’s steady shooting and consistency in the charity lane. The Knights’ high-octane offense held the Red Lions at bay, but the Mendiola dribblers’ 11-of-15 free throws would still keep Muralla cagers within striking distance. By the 1:14 mark, Roldan Sara converted a triple to give San Beda its first taste of the lead, 39-38, but Nambatac provided Letran the marginal lead at halftime with his two free throws, 40-39. See-saw battle The Lions would take over at the start of the third quarter, behind a string of baskets from Mocon and Art dela Cruz. The Knights, however, would answer with a nine-point blitz from Jomari Sollano to wrest the lead back at 51-48. Mocon would extend the see-saw battle with a putback and free throws, 52-51. But a 3-0 spurt, capped off by Kier Quinto’s twinner at the end of the period still placed Letran on top at the end of the third quarter, 54-52. By the first few minutes of the final canto, San Beda seemed frustrated by Letran’s incredible defensive game. And the Knights would dictate the tempo, preventing the Red Lions to wrest control. Letran’s offensive might was also a big factor, with Kevin Racal sinking back-to-back threes, halfway in the fourth.  Graduating players Baser Amer and Ola Adeogun would prevent a Letran pull away, keeping it a manageable four-point deficit, 60-64. But after Racal and Finals MVP Cruz’s assault from three-point land gave Letran what seemed an insurmountable 75-67 lead with 1:53 left, the Knights were silenced by a shocking 8-0 barrage by the Red Lions at the end of regulation, with Amer scoring the equalizer, 13.5 seconds left, to send the game to overtime.  Extended play During the extended play, Amer scored off a gallant incursion to pad an 82-79 lead, 1:28 remaining, setting off wild chants from the San Beda gallery. But these were then muted after four unanswered points coming from Racal’s two charities off an Adeogun foul and Sollano’s midrange jumper after a 24-second violation by the Red Lions, that put Letran in the lead once more, 83-82, with 32.6 seconds left. After successive misses by Amer and Dela Cruz, Adeogun fouled Sollano as the Knights regained possession, and the Letran center marched to the charity lane for two free throws with six seconds left. Sollano would sink the first, and flub the second. In the battle for the rebound, Letran’s McJour Luib and San Beda’s Dela Cruz were then assessed a controversial double-lane violation by referee Nestor Sambrano, who awarded ball possession to the Knights under FIBA rules of “alternating possession.” With 3.7 seconds left to play, and Letran leading at 84-82, Sara had no other choice but to foul Cruz, who would also split his charities.  First title in 10 years, championship steak ended Sorela would then miss a desperation attempt near mid-court as time expired, sending the Letran crowd to a frenzy, with the Knights bagging its first title in 10 years, breaking the hearts of Bedans everywhere as the Red Lions’ five-year championship streak has ended. Racal would top-score for the Knights with 24 markers, most of which in that key stretch in the endgame. Sollano had his career game of 19 points and seven rebounds, Cruz finishing with 14, and Nambatac, 13. Dela Cruz would lead the Red Lions with a near triple-double of 15 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists. He added a steal and two blocks in his incredible all-around game. Adeogun completed his duty in San Beda with a monster double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds. Fellow outgoing Lion Amer chipped in 14 points, which was similar to the output of the prolific Mocon. Will San Beda avenge this heartbreaking loss in their first Finals rematch against Letran since Season 91 and assert its remarkable dynasty or will the Knights frustrate the Red Lions anew and waylay them in an NCAA men’s basketball championship series for the second time in a row?  Watch Game 1 of the NCAA Season 95 Finals between the San Beda Red Lions and the Letran Knights starting on Tuesday, November 12, at the Mall of Asia Arena and live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, TFC.tv, TFC, iWant and livestream......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 12th, 2019

6-6 Fajarito returns, two ex-Bullpups relocate to Letran

Size matters, still, for Colegio de San Juan de Letran whenever NCAA 96 comes along. Already with 6-foot-6 Larry Muyang, 6-foot-6 Pao Javillonar, 6-foot-6 Jeo Ambohot, 6-foot-4 Ato Ular, and 6-foot-3 Mark Sangalang, the Knights are all set to welcome back with open arms 6-foot-6 Christian Fajarito. Fajarito stepped away from the Grand Old League a season ago to play in the MPBL for personal reasons. Now, he seeks to build on the 8.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game counts he posted in Season 94. Alongside him, Letran has secured the services of a pair of champions in the UAAP Jrs. Another big man is entering the Walls of Intramuros in 6-foot-9 Jimly Lantaya while steady guard Jeff Mailim will be spelling Fran Yu and Kurt Reyson. Lantaya was seldom used in Nazareth School of National University, but provided quality minutes once he was. In six games on the floor, he normed 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds. Mailim, meanwhile, is a 5-foot-9 playmaker who saw more action with averages of 2.2 points and 1.1 assists in the Bullpups' back-to-back championships. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2020

Fran Yu driving, delivering desserts right to your doorstep

Fran Yu silenced his haters with a breakout in NCAA 95. Not only that, he did so on the biggest stage and under the brightest lights  - Colegio de San Juan de Letran's run to the championship. Putting up per game counts of 13.7 points, 6.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals, the 5-foot-10 playmaker was the hands-down Finals MVP of a series that saw the Knights dethrone dynastic archrival San Beda University. For him, that breakout was all for his haters. Remember, not that long ago, a particular post questioned where Yu had come from - and, essentially, just who he was. "Siyempre, wala naman akong ginagawang masama nun, galing lang akong Palarong Pambansa eh open court yun, maitim talaga kaming lahat," he said in his appearance alongside RK Ilagan in The Prospects Pod. "Tsaka simula nung bata ako, maitin ako. Hindi ko talaga alam bakit nila nasabi yun. Naglalaro lang naman ako." Four years after that, he drove Letran to the championship and delivered to them a Finals MVP performance as well. As he put it, "Naging motivation ko talaga yun." And up until now, he is driving and delivering the goods - even outside the court. The now-21-year-old is now the proud owner-slash-employee-slash-endorser of a humble homemade desserts business. With the helping hands of a few friends and family members, he offers Oreo graham, mango graham, and banana graham cakes to sweettooths all over Metro Manila. "Nag-start lang kami nung ECQ kasi wala kaming magawa sa bahay. Nagtinda kami ng merienda, pero hindi pumatok," he said, talking about life in the time of the continuing COVID-19 crisis. He then continued, "Tapos nag-Mother's Day, inisip naming bakit hindi kaya graham na lang ang itinda. Dun na nag-start pumatok kasi summer din kaya gusto ng mga tao ng malamig." Even more, Yu himself drives around in his motorcycle to deliver the desserts to patrons - within his hometown Manila, that is. "Para mas lalo silang bumili diba? Marketing strategy yun," he said, through chuckles. And with that, Fran Yu is actually "namamasada," as of right now. Only, he is far from "nagpapahinga lang." He's actually taking care of business. "Actually, open na nga kami for resellers e. Tapos kung mas lalaki pa yung business, why not ituloy-tuloy pa, diba?" he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 25th, 2020

RK Ilagan, Baste plotting revenge on Letran in NCAA 96

RK Ilagan has one thing and one thing only in his mind come his last year for San Sebastian College-Recoletos. "Sa akin po talaga, gusto ko pong bumawi sa kanila," he said in last Friday's The Prospects Pod, referring to fellow guest Fran Yu. "Sila po (nagtanggal sa amin e) so sana mabigyan po kami ng chance talagang makabawi sa kanila." In NCAA 95, Colegio de San Juan de Letran got the better of Ilagan and the Golden Stags in the first rung of the stepladder playoffs. The Knights would go on to boot out Lyceum of the Philippines University and best San Beda University en route to the championship. Through that charge, they left in their wake several tantalizing talents such as Season MVP Calvin Oftana, "Bandana Bros." James Canlas and Evan Nelle, and Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee. Among all them, however, it's apparently Ilagan who's still hurting the worst. And why wouldn't he as he turned in a career game only to be eliminated. "Lahat po yun, tsamba. Shumu-shoot kahit hagis-hagis lang," he said, recalling his 36-point outburst in that loss. He then continued, "Samin lang po doon, parang ayaw ko lang po talaga magpatalo kasi siyempre, last year na ni [Allyn] Bulanadi at [Aljon] Capobres." And that is exactly why come Season 95, RK Ilagan and the rest of Baste will be running and gunning for Letran - what a great game that will be. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 10th, 2020

Fran Yu: Gusto namin patunayang di kami nakatsamba

Colegio de San Juan de Letran was always a legitimate contender in NCAA 95. After San Beda University won each and every one of its elimination round games, however, few, if any, gave the Knights a chance to win it all. The Red Lions, of course, were already awaiting in the championship round while their archrivals had to go through San Sebastian College-Recoletos and then Lyceum of the Philippines University. Letran did just that, though, and took care of business against RK Ilagan and the Golden Stags and then took down the Marcelino twins and the Pirates. Still, San Beda was marching towards history, two more consecutive victories away from the biggest season sweep in the Grand Old League. Only, the Knights put an end to that in Game 1, shocking the world with a 65-64 decision. In the end, Letran shocked the world even more, dethroning its fiercest foe and winning it all. Now, the boys from Intramuros are far from satisfied. "Ngayon, gusto pa rin naming mapatunayang kaya talaga naming makipagsabayan. Kasi nga, diba all-Filipino kami tapos yung nakalaban namin, hindi," Fran Yu said in last Friday's The Prospects Pod. He then continued, "Gusto namin patunayang 'di kami nakatsamba. May gusto pa kaming i-prove." Indeed, the Knights will be out to prove their title was no fluke, but will have to do so sans Jerrick Balanza and Bonbon Batiller. Fortunately for them, Yu is nothing but ready and raring to take on a bigger burden. As he put it, "Kapag point guard, kailangan mong mag-lead, kailangan mong mag-assist para buong team yung tumatakbo." He then continued, "Yung pagiging leader ko, galing kay Toto [Calvo], kay Bong [Quinto], tapos kay Jerrick [Balanza] at Bonbon [Batiller], ayun lahat sila nasa PBA na, so parang gagayahin ko na lang kung paano yung pag-lead nila sa amin." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 8th, 2020

NCAA Finals: For the haters, Fran Yu drives Letran to championship

(This story was originally published on Nov. 11, 2019) Fran Yu is the breakout star of all of the playoffs NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament. Without a doubt, just about everybody would recognize Colegio de San Juan de Letran's playmaker now. This, four years after he got bad vibes from social media when the 5-foot-10 playmaker was still playing for University of the East. "Dati, 'di ako makatulog. Wala namang akong ginawa sa kanila tapos gaganunin nila ako," he said. He then continued, "Naging motivation ko yung post na yun. Gusto kong i-prove na balewala ang hitsura mo pag naglalaro ka ng basketball." Back in 2015, Yu was a Red Warrior and a certain post questioned where he had come from - and, essentially, just who he was. Four years later, the now 21-year-old has an NCAA championship as well as a Finals MVP award. And with that, he has an answer for all those questions from before. "Hi, I'm Fran Yu and we are champions. Mas masarap ibalik yung paninira niya at ito, nagbunga dahil nag-champion kami," he said. He then continued, "Naging motivation nga yun sa akin dahil gusto kong patunayang dati, inaasar niyo ako pero ngaoyn, champion na kami. Mas masarap yung bawi namin!" Tell the truth, Fran Yu! You deserve to! --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 30th, 2020

TAKE-TWO: These players made the most of their second chances

Comeback is real could not be any truer than in sports where nothing is ever over until the sound of the final buzzer. That goes as well off the court where nothing is ever over until, well, until somebody says it is. That is very much evident in all these players who did not necessarily have the best of first tries, but did nothing but make the most out of another shot once it presented itself. We begin with Colegio de San Juan de Letran's trio of talented transferees who were cast away from their UAAP schools only to get into their groove inside the Walls of Intramuros. Bonbon Batiller looked like he was University of the East's next top gun before taking his talents to the Knights. Now, he is an NCAA champion. Larry Muyang found no place in his one year in De La Salle University, but was finally given the chance to stand strong as one of Letran's big, bad pillars all the way to the title. Perhaps the most feel-good story, however, is Fran Yu who was lost in the shuffle in his single season as a Red Warrior before blossoming when it mattered most for the Knights. With that, he could now be called Finals MVP. The University of the Philippines has also leaned on quite a few talented transferees as it ushered in its new era of legitimate contention. Of course, Bright Akhuetie was no slouch when he was doing the heavy lifting for University of Perpetual Help, but when he moved to Diliman, he proved to be the difference in the Fighting Maroons' first Final Four since 1997 and first Finals since 1986. And oh, the Nigerian powerhouse is also State U's first MVP in 32 years. Jun Manzo, who first showcased his skills for University of the Visayas, was also a key cog in the maroon and green's two straight trips to the playoffs. So was Jaydee Tungcab who morphed from next big thing for Adamson University to dependable two-way player for UP. Ricci Rivero, meanwhile, is yet to reach the same heights he already has back as a Green Archer, but is set for a bigger year for the Fighting Maroons as they try for a third Final Four in a row - and who knows, even a breakthrough championship. In terms of championships, however, the most successful talented transferee is Ateneo de Manila University's Will Navarro. The versatile forward frequently lauded by head coach Tab Baldwin for his efficiency started his collegiate career as a backup in San Beda University before finding and fortifying his role with the Blue Eagles. With that, he has celebrated back-to-back titles. With a trophy of his own is Arellano University's Justin Arana who was hailed as Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-5 big man rose as a talented tower for the Chiefs because he was finally given the break he was once hoping to get in University of Sto. Tomas. More minutes was also what Shaun Ildefonso got when he traded in the Ateneo blue and white for the blue and gold of National University. Not only that, he was also named team captain for the Bulldogs. In Perpetual, a trio of transferees also showed the way. Ben Adamos brought his end-to-end game from San Beda, Edgar Charcos fulfilled his playmaking promise from UE, and Kim Aurin delivered his all-around goods from Jose Rizal University to Las Pinas. Other players who made the most of their second chances are: --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: Ayo s Mayhem Letran vs Tan s Big, Bad Letran

In the last decade, only one school has stood between San Beda University and its complete and utter dominance of NCAA Men's Basketball. That school? The Red Lions' archrival Colegio de San Juan de Letran. In 2015, the Knights came from out of nowhere to put a stop to San Beda's search for a sixth straight title. Four years later, the Red Lions were going for a fourth consecutive championship and, more impressively, a season sweep only to be resoundingly rejected, yet again, by their archrivals. And so, Mendiola is home to 80 percent of total trophies since 2010. The other 20 percent, though? They are proudly presented in Intramuros. Come to think about it, though, which triumph over its fierce foe was sweeter for Letran? Here in ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown, that is what we aim to answer. To determine who comes out on top between the blue and red's proud champions, we will be judging them in five categories (frontcourt, backcourt, coaching, level of competition, and shock factor) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. FRONTCOURT The trademark of Aldin Ayo's very first championship team was that of playing much bigger than its expectations, its own size, and its, more often than not, bigger opponents. Ayo's nominal center was 6-foot-5 Jom Sollano while his regular 4-man was 6-foot-4 Kevin Racal. Off the bench, his first quote-unquote big was 6-foot-3 Felix Apreku. Still, those three played their roles to a tee and, along with the rest of the team, assembled a well-oiled machine that made the most of its speed advantage. Fast forward four years and "undersized" could no longer be used to describe Letran. In 6-7 Christian Balagasay, 6-6 Jeo Ambohot, 6-6 Pao Javillonar, 6-5 Larry Muyang, 6-4 Ato Ular, and 6-4 Mark Sangalang, Bonnie Tan finally had big, bad weapons in his arsenal. And for sure, those big, bad weapons flipped what was once a chink in the armor of the Knights into a super strength. And for sure, this department would be dominated by that rotation of ready and raring big men. Advantage 2019 Letran, 10-8 BACKCOURT The two teams' Finals MVP both come from the backcourt. Mark Cruz, like he has always done, came up big for Letran and averaged 17.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 3.0 steals Fran Yu, meanwhile, used the big stage and bright lights to break out to the tune of norms of 13.7 points, 6.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals. In those two, the Knights had capable and confident counters to San Beda's own primetime playmakers in Baser Amer and Evan Nelle. The edge here, however, would have to go to Cruz whose signature play in the winner-take-all Game 3 was not a shot. Rather, it was a setup - after driving through the lane and drawing defenders with under a minute left, he found Sollano open at the baseline. Sollano only made good on the assist and his shot proved to be the go-ahead basket for the title. Add Rey Nambatac's offense and Mcjour Luib's defense here and Ayo's Letran just had a more well-rounded backcourt compared to Tan's which also included Jerrick Balanza and Bonbon Batiller. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 COACHING Ayo is one of the best collegiate coaches in all of the Philippines. He has seen Tab Baldwin win the last three titles in the UAAP, but it still wasn't that long ago when he won back-to-back championships with different teams and in different leagues. Time and time again, the youthful mentor has proven to get the most out of his players - from the Cruz-Nambatac-Racal triumvirate in Letran to Ben Mbala-Jeron Teng De La Salle University and now, University of Sto. Tomas with Soulemane Chabi Yo, Rhenz Abando, CJ Cansino, and Mark Nonoy. What he doesn't have, however, are the so-called "super friends" of Tan. Through the NCAA 95 Finals, NorthPort head coach Pido Jarencio and assistant Jeff Napa were sharing their mind with the Knights themselves during timeouts. They were informal additions to regular assistants Rensy Bajar, Lou Gatumbato, Raymond Tiongco, and Ginebra point guard LA Tenorio. Even more were behind the bench in Letran special assistant to the rector for sports development and San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua, NorthPort team manager Erick Arejola, Columbian governor Bobby Rosales and head coach Johnedel Cardel, and Magnolia governor Rene Pardo. Asked about all those behind his back, Tan answered then, "In business, you need partners to be successful and in sports naman, we need friends lalo na yung mga may alam kung paano manalo. Friends ko yan lahat so welcome sila - brainstorm and synergy kami." Still, it's already a given by this point that competition only fuels the already burning fire inside Ayo. With that, there is just no doubt that he would only push himself harder and farther in the face of Tan and his so-called "super friends." And the one-time NCAA and one-time UAAP champion coach much more motivated than ever is nothing but a scary thought. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 LEVEL OF COMPETITION NCAA 91 was the year of "Kagulo sa NCAA." Then, six squads out of 10 had a legitimate claim to a playoff berth. So competitive was the field that Jiovani Jalalon and Kent Salado's Arellano University as well as a University of Perpetual Help side that had Scottie Thompson, Prince Eze, and Bright Akhuetie fell short of the Final Four. Illustrating the competition even further, the season's Finalists only had one member of the Mythical Team between them - San Beda's Art Dela Cruz. On the other hand, NCAA 95's playoff cast was completed a week before the end of the elimination round. Yes, there was a Red Lion team that automatically advanced to the Finals and had three out of five Mythical selections. Still, that tournament's fourth-seed was San Sebastian College-Recoletos who had an 11-7 standing. Comparing that to NCAA 91's fourth-seed in Mapua University who sported a 12-6 slate and the 2019 Golden Stags wouldn't even make the 2015 playoffs. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 SHOCK FACTOR It was a shock to see Letran upset San Beda in Game 1 of the NCAA 95 Finals after the latter won each and every game in the elimination round, It was even more of a shock to see the Knights actually topple the dynastic and season sweep-seeking Red Lions. Still, there was always an outside shot of that happening. "Letran is one of three shoo-ins for the Final Four – as well as a strong contender to wage war in the Finals and even possibly, hoist the trophy," ABS-CBN Sports stated in its preseason preview for the blue and red then. "This fully loaded lineup has the makings of a dynasty-ender – what’s only up in the air is if it would be motivated enough to do just that." On the other hand, nobody, nobody at all aside from Ayo had Letran contending in NCAA 91 - much more, winning it all. As ABS-CBN Sports stated in its preseason preview then, "It remains to be seen if the Knights' fortified defense and added offensive firepower can overcome their lack of size especially against the Final Four teams, all of whom have only gotten bigger." Even when the Knights finally charged to the championship round, not that many gave them a chance. In fact, all that doubt became tattooed on the mind of Ayo whose first words in the post-game conference when they finally claimed the crown was, "Joey, follow your heart!" The fiery mentor was referring to the Philippine Star's Joey Villar who said in the leadup to the Finals that his heart wants to root for Letran, but his mind knows San Beda would win. He wasn't alone. Even Ayo had to admit that his players themselves didn't believe until the season was already underway. "Sa totoo lang, nung team-building namin nung preseason, nung tinanong ko kung naniniwala ba silang magcha-champion tayo, they laughed. Nung natalo lang namin yung JRU nung (second game of the season), dun lang sila naniwala.," he said then. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 FINAL SCORE: 48-46 for 2015 Letran.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2020

Fran Yu introducing himself even more with YouTube channel

Fran Yu broke out in the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Finals. Not only that, he broke through all the way to the level of the best point guards in college basketball. Once a castoff, Yu has now, without a doubt, found a home and in doing so, found himself as well. That 21-year-old is only ready and raring to make even more noise entering his last year in Colegio de San Juan de Letran. To help with that, he has created a YouTube channel where the faithful over in Intramuros and just about everybody else could get to know him better. "Ginawa ko ito para mapakita ko yung ginagawa naming mga athletes sa pag-araw-araw," he said. "Para rin mas lalo nila akong makilala hindi lang sa court kundi pati rin sa labas. Siyempre, gusto ko ring mag-share ng knowledge ko sa basketball." In his first video, Yu put on display a sample of his workout routine. And to his delight, the feedback has been nothing but positive. As he put it, "Masaya ako kasi maraming naka-appreciate nung ginawa ko kahit saglit lang, kahit mahirap pala." Even better, video production has been some sort of bonding experience for the 5-foot-10 playmaker and his younger sister. "Maraming kailangang gawin - andaming kuha, andaming edit, pero tinatiyaga talaga namin ng kapatid ko," he shared. It's moments like those that are only welcome especially during the continuing COVID-19 crisis. "Dahil dito, mas nagiging close din kami," he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: CJ s 2017 LPU vs Calvin s 2019 San Beda

A perfect run in NCAA Men's Basketball, as it stands today, has not been done. Yes, San Beda University scored a season sweep in 2010, but that tournament totaled nine teams - meaning, the Red Lions won 16 elimination round games as well as two more in the best-of-three Finals for an overall record of 18-0. Even farther back, San Sebastian College-Recoletos didn't lose once in several seasons from the 1980s to the 1990s, but played, at maximum, 13 games. As it stands today, the Grand Old League has 10 squads - making for 18 elims matches and then a race-to-two championship round. As such, an eye-popping 20-0 perfect run has not been done. In the last three years, two teams have come close - CJ Perez's Lyceum of the Philippines University in 2017 and Calvin Oftana's San Beda in 2019. After winning each and every game in the elims, however, both squads went on to lose in the Finals - and so, not only did they miss out on a season sweep, but also got denied of a championship. Looking back, which almost-but-not-quite was more powerful - and therefore, more painful? That is what we hope to answer in this ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown. In reviewing the elims masterpiece and Finals meltdown of the two teams, we will be judging them in five categories (elims dominance, expectations exceeded, inherent talent, competition, and Finals fight) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. ELIMS DOMINANCE Simply put, San Beda just ran roughshod over the rest of the league in the NCAA 95 elims. Doubted after having lost Robert Bolick and Javee Mocon, the Red Lions sent a statement that the title still goes through them and beat up their opponents by an average of 18.9. In the end, their closest call was a four-point triumph over archrival Colegio de San Juan de Letran and the number of their single-digit wins were a staggering, well, three out of 18. For comparison, LPU normed a winning margin of 12.8 in the Season 93 elims - with more than a few close calls against also-rans in Arellano University, Emilio Aguinaldo College, and Mapua University. After ambushing the rest of the league with their run-and-gun game, the Pirates had to fight tooth and nail in the stretch run of the elims. In fact, in the last game before the playoffs, LPU needed two extra periods to put away San Beda. Yes, a win is a win, but it's clear as day that between the wo teams, it was the 2019 Red Lions who dominated the elims. Advantage San Beda, 10-8 EXPECTATIONS EXCEEDED As aforementioned, San Beda was expected to go through growing pains in 2019 as they had lost Bolick and Mocon and would have to rely on a talented yet young core of James Canlas, Evan Nelle, and Calvin Oftana. Still, the Red Lions were the Red Lions - and in recent history, a playoff fixture in the Grand Old League. And so, expectations were quite a bit lower - for the dynasty in Mendiola, that is - and the red and white did nothing but far exceed them with an unbeaten run in the elims. Still, back in 2017, LPU literally came out of nowhere to go undefeated in the elims. On a sunken ship in their first years in the NCAA, the Pirates finally got winds in their sails in the form of Perez and Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee. Those three, alongside captain MJ Ayaay and Cameroonian powerhouse Mike Nzeusseu, led them to their first-ever playoff berth which they got with their 13th win in as many games in the season. And with an 18th consecutive victory, LPU then booked for itself an automatic advance into its first-ever Finals. Expectations were highest in school history for the Pirates with Perez in tow, but nobody at all assumed they were sailing straight to the championship round. Advantage LPU, 10-9 INHERENT TALENT 2017 was the year that Perez became Perez. Putting up per game counts of 19.3 points in 45.1 percent shooting on top of 6.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.9 steals, the 6-foot-1 swingman was the undisputed MVP. At the same time, the Marcelino twins terrorized opposing backcourts by making an immediate impact as end-to-end menaces. Add to that Ayaay and Nzeusseu and LPU had a championship core - just about everybody else didn't know it just yet. On the other hand, 2019 was the first time that, arguably, San Beda wasn't the most talented team in the tournament. Make no mistake, the Red Lions remained loaded with the likes of "Bandana Bros." Canlas and Nelle, but it was actually former reserve forward Oftana who emerged as the league's top individual player with norms of 15.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.2 blocks. Still, in the end, San Beda went 18-0 in the elims by staying true to itself - utilizing an uncompromising total team effort. Advantage LPU, 10-9 COMPETITION LPU had to traverse rough seas in 2017 for its elims sweep. Back then, San Beda had Bolick and Mocon, Jose Rizal University had Teytey Teodoro and Jed Mendoza, San Sebastian had Michael Calisaan and Allyn Bulanadi, Letran had Rey Nambatac and Bong Quinto, and Arellano had Kent Salado and Lervin Flores. Even more, the Mythical Team had Perez, teammate Nzeusseu, Red Lion Mocon, Sidney Onwubere from non-Final Four team EAC, and University of Perpetual Help's Nigerian tower Prince Eze. Fast forward to 2019 and household names were hard to come by as the Mythical Team had San Beda's Oftana, a former reserve forward; Nelle, a former backup point guard; Canlas, a former secondary scorer; as well as San Sebastian late-bloomer Bulanadi and LPU playmaker Jaycee Marcelino. Of those five, Marcelino was the most recognizable name - and he was not necessarily known for putting a team on his back. Safe to say, Season 93 was much more competitive than Season 95. Even more, 2019 was the last year with foreign student-athletes and by then, only three remained. Tankoua is as solid as they come, Nzeusseu is spectacular at times, and College of St. Benilde's Clement Leutcheu is serviceable. The crop of reinforcements in 2017, though, had those three as well as MVP runner-up Eze of Perpetual, Hamadou Laminou of EAC, and JRU's Abdul Wahab Abdul Razak and Abdel Poutuouchi. Advantage LPU, 10-8 FINALS FIGHT Both LPU and San Beda woke up from dreaming of a perfect season in Game 1 of the Finals. The Pirates were sent crashing back to earth by the defending champion Red Lions and were ultimately swept in the championship round of Season 93. On the other hand, San Beda went the distance with archrival Letran in the Season 95 Finals, but was also at the losing end. Also, if not for Bonbon Batiller's botched reverse layup in the dying moments, Game 2 may have had a different ending, and the Red Lions may have been swept as well. Still, the fact that San Beda was able to take one from the eventual champions nudges it ahead of LPU which went winless in the championship round after a perfect elims. Advantage San Beda, 10-9 FINAL SCORE, 47-46, for LPU.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 7th, 2020

Letran greats share game-worn jerseys to raise funds for COVID-19 aid

Colegio de San Juan de Letran's past and present are coming together to form a wall to help frontliners stand strong in the face of the continuing COVID-19 crisis. Kevin Alas has fronted an effort to round up game-worn jerseys of former Knights and put them up for auction. The proceeds from there will then be used to purchase personal protective equipment for health workers doing their best against COVID-19. Alas donated a jersey from his time with Gilas Pilipinas as well as his very own Kobe 8s. Not long after, Raymond Almazan also extended a helping hand, sending out his Meralco jersey. Joining in on the fun as well was Jerrick Balanza, captain of the most recent NCAA champions, who gave his Letran jersey from last season. Other ex-Knights who are working with the Dominican Province of the Philippines, Inc. in this effort are Kevin Racal of Alaska,  RJ Jazul of Phoenix, Bonbon Batiller and JP Calvo of Columbian, and Bryan Faundo and Bong Quinto of Meralco. Larry Muyang and Fran Yu, Balanza's teammates on the 2019 titlists of the Grand Old League and still with one more year to play in blue and red, also have jerseys up for auction. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 6th, 2020

New coach Jeff Napa searching for building block in CEU s post-Diouf era

Not only will Centro Escolar University have a new coach at the helm, it will also have a new foundation as it tries to continue its contention. The Scorpions have hired Jeff Napa, one of the tried and tested head coaches still available, to be their new mentor beginning in the oncoming 2020 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup. Coach Jeff last called the shots for Colegio de San Juan de Letran from 2016 to 2018 and led them to one playoff berth. More importantly, however, he laid the groundwork for the Knights' championship in the most recent season of the NCAA by having recruited the likes of Larry Muyang, Bonbon Batiller, and Fran Yu. While his contract was not renewed by the Intramuros-based school after three years, he stayed on as consultant and remained a factor in the development of Muyang, Jeo Ambohot, and Jerrick Balanza. Of course, the 38-year-old, who has won three championships in the UAAP Jrs. as shot-caller of Nazareth School of National University, is nothing but grateful for the golden opportunity to once more call the shots in the collegiate ranks. "Very thankful ako sa CEU. Very excited din ako kasi kakaibang challenge naman," he said. Now in pink and purple, coach Jeff will be tasked to ensure that the Scorpions' sting remains as potent as ever despite the exits of former tactician Derrick Pumaren as well as Senegalese double-double machine Malick Diouf. For his part, the product of National U is nothing but looking forward to proving his worth anew. "Up to the challenge naman ako na ituloy yung winning culture nila," he said. For now, coach Jeff has started the search for a brand new big man to build around - especially as he had made a name for himself as a so-called "big man whisperer." CEU has no leads just yet, but the school has long had a rich history of dominant big men from the likes of Rod Ebondo to Diouf. Helping out Napa in his new post will be longtime lieutenant Chico Manabat. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2020

ABS-CBN S+A’S “THE SCORE” LOOKS BACK ON THE BEST OF 2019 IN PH SPORTS

ABS-CBN S+A wraps up a milestone year for Philippine sports with a two-part special of “The Score,” featuring champion athletes in basketball and volleyball, and medalists from the recent 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG). Joining veteran sports anchor Mico Halili on December 30 (Monday) to discuss the year in basketball are kings of the hardcourt Fran Yu and Jerrick Balanza from the NCAA Season 93 men’s basketball champion Letran Knights and John Wilson and Mike Ayonayon of MPBL Datu Cup champion San Juan Knights, and Southeast Asia women’s basketball queens Afril Bernardino and Janine Pontejos. Afril and Janine helped make 2019 one for the books for Philippine women’s basketball as members of the teams that clinched the gold medals in SEAG women’s basketball and women’s 3x3. Other SEAG heroes and heroines will also be part of the program as Mico shifts the discussion to Team Philippines’ 387-medal haul in the region’s biennial sporting event. To share their thoughts on the Filipinos’ historic feat are CJ Concepcion (Fencing), Carlo Peña (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu), Kim Kilgroe (Triathlon), Jasmine Alkhaldi (Swimming), Christiana Means (Skateboarding), and Meggie Ochoa (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu). On December 31 (Tuesday), former volleyball superstar and now multisport athlete and “Umagang Kay Ganda” anchor Gretchen Ho takes over the special to focus on the sensational year for Philippine volleyball. Premier Volleyball League (PVL) 2019 Open Conference champions Creamline Cool Smashers will be represented by national athletes Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado with teammates Jema Galanza and Kyla Atienza, while 2019 Reinforced Conference champions Petro Gazz Angels will be represented by Cherry Nunag, Jonah Sabete, and Chie Saet. Joining them in the roundtable are UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball champion Ateneo Lady Eagles’ setter Deanna Wong and middle blocker Maddie Madayag, who also represented the country in the SEAG. As in previous years, ABS-CBN Sports has been delivering the inspiring stories of Filipino athletes through its coverage of tournaments in various local and international leagues on multiple media platforms including S+A on TV, S+A HD, LIGA, and LIGA HD on cable, and online on iWant, sports.abs-cbn.com, and the ABS-CBN Sports social media accounts and YouTube channel. In 2020, the sports arm of the country’s leading media and entertainment conglomerate will continue to highlight the greatness and positive values of Filipino sports idols and icons. Don’t miss “The Score: Best of 2019” two-part special on December 30 and 31, 6 pm on ABS-CBN S+A and S+A HD. Watch online on iWant. For sports news, follow @ABSCBNSports on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or visit www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2019

2019: To sweep or not to sweep in collegiate basketball

The 2019 collegiate basketball season will always be remembered as the time when all of NCAA defending champion San Beda, UAAP Men’s defending champion Ateneo, and UAAP Women’s defending champion National U were trying for season sweeps. Two of them did it, one of them didn’t. All in all, though, that storyline that had something to do with history defined NCAA 95 and UAAP 82. A tale of two leagues – when it comes to foreign student-athletes NCAA 95 was the last season wherein the Grand Old League’s 10 member-schools were still able to trot out foreign student-athletes. This, after more than a decade of the likes of Sam Ekwe, Sudan Daniel, Allwell Oraeme, Prince Eze, and Mike Nzeusseu setting the bar higher for big men. Over in UAAP 82, Beninese ball of energy Soulemane Chabi Yo and Ivorian tower Ange Kouame jostled throughout the tournament for the recognition as top individual player. In the end, Chabi Yo followed in the footsteps of Cameroon’s Ben Mbala and Nigeria’s Bright Akhuetie as Season MVPs. The NCAA will go local from here on out while the UAAP will still parade promising prospects from overseas – what’s certain is that both leagues will go all-out to ascertain that the action will never stop. Rising stars become shining stars Robert Bolick left San Beda with a big, big hole at point guard – only for Evan Nelle to waste no time proving the Red Lions remain in good hands. UST’s fast and furious attack needed a fast and furious playmaker – and the Growling Tigers got just that in the form of Mark Nonoy. In his first year as FEU’s lead guard, L-Jay Gonzales showed time and time again why he was always seen as the next one in the Tamaraws’ long, long line of great guards. The story of the season in terms of guards, however, has got to be Fran Yu who came out of nowhere to energize Letran to a pleasant surprise of a championship. UP might 2019 was the first time in a long, long while – or maybe even ever – that UP was considered a shoo-in for the Final Four. The Fighting Maroons had just ended a 32-year Finals absence and a 21-year playoff drought last year and came into this season still with Bright Akhuetie, Jun Manzo, and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan, but also now with Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero. In all, State U lived up to the hype and made it back-to-back Final Four appearances, but at the same time, fell short of fulfilling the promise of its fully loaded line-up. Still, continued contention is nothing but a welcome development for Diliman which had been experiencing dark, dark days for far too long. Gilas Pilipinas calling With Tab Baldwin overseeing the program, Gilas Pilipinas will try once more to take a long-term, big-picture view – especially with the 2023 FIBA World Cup looming large. With that, the American-Kiwi mentor tapped on five collegiate standouts to form the foundation of the national team – Ateneo’s Isaac Go and Nieto twins Mike and Matt, UE’s Rey Suerte, and San Sebastian’s Allyn Bulanadi. And with that, the Philippines is yet again leaning on the best of the best of collegiate basketball to wear the flag and do the country proud. It’s a new day, it’s a new generation The NCAA hit home runs in each and every one of its coaching changes. Bonnie Tan raised banner no. 18 for Letran in his first year. Randy Alcantara has Mapua prepped and primed to take flight. Louie Gonzalez has given JRU an attitude. Oliver Bunyi and Cholo Martin have EAC and Arellano, respectively, headed in the right direction. The same cannot be said for the UAAP as both of its new head coaches found themselves on the outside looking into the playoff picture. Jermaine Byrd had La Salle fighting, but ultimately failed to find a finishing kick. UE also kept coming with the leadership of Lawrence Chongson, but eventually ended eliminated. Teeth out, claws out, all-out UST has a proud program in basketball, but only had nine wins to show in 42 games from 2016 to 2018 That all came to an end in 2019 as Aldin Ayo had the Growling Tigers, well, growling from the get-go. Bombing away at their opponents and forcing them to keep up, Espana made its mark as a legitimate contender that made it all the way to the Finals. There, they were sent away by Ateneo’s championship-winning machine, but the future remains bright for the black and gold with all of Season MVP Chabi Yo, Rookie of the Year Nonoy, captain CJ Cansino, Brent Paraiso, and Sherwin Concepcion, among others, coming back for more. Fitting farewell for Ateneo’s championship core Thirdy Ravena. Isaac Go. Mike Nieto. Matt Nieto. Adrian Wong. Those five left Ateneo on top of the world – having claimed a three-peat as well as completed a historic season sweep. And without a doubt, those five were also the catalysts in this new golden age for the Blue Eagles – a golden age which has seen them set and then raise the standard for team glory time and time again. Katipunan will have a tough time moving forward from those five, but at the same time, having the likes of Ange Kouame, Will Navarro, Gian Mamuyac, and SJ Belangel just waiting in the wings makes it easier. Who run the world? National U has not lost a game in 2,270 days. National U has not lost a game in 74 months. National U has not lost a game in six years. The last time head coach Pat Aquino had to lift up the spirits of his Lady Bulldogs was back in October 5, 2013 when they bowed to La Salle in the winner-take-all Finals Game 3. Since then, the blue and gold has been the gold standard of women’s basketball all while giving its opponents the blues. That didn’t change this year as behind Jack Animam and Rhena Itesi as well as welcome additions Kelli Hayes and Camille Clarin, National U continued to have all the answers – even for back-to-back Season MVP Grace Irebu and UST. Shock the system Letran was, in no way, given a chance to deny archrival San Beda’s bid for a perfect season – or much more, win the championship altogether. But the Knights didn’t listen and took that chance themselves, catching just everybody by surprise by taking Game 1 and dealing the Red Lions their first defeat in the season. San Beda bounced back in Game 2, but in the decider, Jerrick Balanza, Bonbon Batiller, Larry Muyang, and Yu just willed Letran to the title. Now, the Knights are kings for the 18th time – and indeed, they had no import, but had no problem. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2019

NCAA 95: Bonbon Batiller owes championship to former coach Jeff Napa

In Game 2 of the NCAA Season 95 Men's Basketball Finals last November 15, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights were within one basket away from pulling off an improbable series sweep of defending champion and favorites, the San Beda University Red Lions.  It would turn into heartbreak for the Knights however, after Bonbon Batiller botched an undergoal stab in the final seconds that would have been a go-ahead basket. San Beda would end up winning, 79-76, to force a deciding third game.  Batiller put the blame for the Game 2 loss on himself, and came out guns blazing in the deciding game, helping lead Letran to a 81-79 Game 3 win to recpature the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship, Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.  Batiller was hot early, as he scored seven of Letran's first 9 points and went on to finish with 19 markers to go along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.  "Isa lang masasabi ko, hindi na madulas yung bola," Batiller said with a laugh during the post-game presser.  Batiller quickly turned emotional however, as he recalled the rough road he took to get to becoming a champion in the NCAA.  Once a promising recruit for University of the East, Batiller found himself cast aside after just two seasons.  As Batiller recounted, it was former Letran head coach Jeff Napa that gave him a second chance, and for that, he has all the gratitude in the world.  "Kung may pasasalamatan ako sa grupo na ito, bago pa si Coach Bonnie, si Coach Jeff Napa. Unang-una, [nung] tinanggal ako sa UE nung 2017, basura na ako, pinulot ako ni Coach Jeff, kumbaga pinaliguan, inalagaan, ngayon champion na," Batiller shared, fighting off tears. As it turns out, Napa was also the person responsible for bringing in Finals MVP Fran Yu.  "Dalawa kami ni Fran. Tinanong ako Coach Jeff, 'San si Fran Yu?' 'Coach, nasa Thailand.''Kontakin mo, tanong mo kung gusto niya mag-Letran.' Tinanong ko, 'Bata, gusto mo ba mag-Letran? Andito ako ngayon.' Sabi niya 'Sige, uwi ako diyan. Diyan tayo mag-laro sa Letran.'" Like Batiller, Yu was also once a promising recruit with the Red Warriors, but was out of the team after just one season.  In Intramuros, Batiller and Yu were given another chance to prove themselves, and that's exactly what they set out to do, and did.  "Isa lang ang sinabi ko kay Fran, sabi ko 'Fran, kailangan natin ipakita dito, patunayan sa mga nag-doubt sa atin, mga hindi naniwala sa atin.'" "Ayun, nakuha namin ni Fran yung championship. Ang laking pasasalamat ko kay Coach Jeff," Batiller concluded. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2019

NCAA 95: Grateful Jerrick Balanza repays Letran community with championship

Letran Knights sharpshooter Jerrick Balanza had himself the perfect ending to his collegiate career as he dropped a game-high 27 points to lead his Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights to an 81-79 Game 3 win in the NCAA Season 95 Men's Basketball Finals over rivals San Beda University Red Lions, Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena, to return to the summit of the NCAA men's basketball summit.  The graduating Balanza was on fire all-game long as he drained big bucket after big bucket, none bigger than a crucial three to put the Knights up 79-73 with a minute and 29 seconds left. While San Beda would get it down to a one possession game with 5.4 ticks left, there would be no miracles for the would-have-been four-peat champs as the underdog Knights came up with a couple of crucial defensive stops, the last being a block from Balanza to secure the title.  "As a captain, kailangan kong patunayan sa team, and sa Letran community, tsaka, katulad nung sinabi ko nakaraan, kung sinong mas gusto manalo eh, so ako ginusto ko talaga, lahat ng takot ko sa tira, hindi. Inalis ko yun, talagang nilabanan ko,so yun," said Balanza, who added seven rebounds and three assists. "Maganda yung outcome, so nag-tuloy tuloy siya."  BIG SHOT JERRICK ???? #NCAASeason95 pic.twitter.com/GUJnfFi7kb — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 19, 2019 For Balanza, bringing an NCAA Men's Basketball Championship back to Intramuros was also the perfect way to repay the Letran community for everything that they've done.  Balanza was, of course, this season's most inspiring story, making a triumphant return after being sidelined midway through Season 94 due to a brain tumor from an ear infection. Balanza successfully underwent surgery in September of 2018. By July of 2019, Balanza was back in uniform for the Knights in Season 95.  Behind him every step of the way, Balanza says, was the whole Letran community, and winning a title was a way of showing gratitude.  "Sobrang bait ni God, talaga, sobra, dahil talagang lugmok na lugmok na ako nung time na yun eh," said Balanza during the post-game press conference. "Wala akong ginawa kung hindi maniwala lang sa Kanya at maging positibo, so ayun, sobrang sarap lang ng pakiramdam na napasalamatan ko yung Letran community and sa lahat ng naniwala sa amin sa pamamagitan ng [championship]." "Ito na, ito na yung ginawang way para mapasalamatan ko sila. Hindi ko man sila mapasalamatan isa-isa, ito na siguro yung ginawang way ni God." the 23-year old added.  Letran, you were always behind Jerrick. This is all for YOU! #NCAASeason95 pic.twitter.com/1MWpfL7qFJ — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 19, 2019 Coming into the season, the tall and talented Letran squad was indeed considered as contenders, but the favorites remained the defending champion Red Lions, and that standing was only reinforced by San Beda sweeping the eliminations and gaining an outright berth into the Finals.  Letran on the other hand, finished as the 3-seed and found themselves going through two do-or-die games against San Sebastian and Lyceum, before finally setting up a rematch of the NCAA Season 91 Men's Basktball Finals against the Red Lions.  Through all the adversity, there was never any doubt in Balanza that they would be able to topple the red and white giants and claim their 18th title.  "Sa amin naman kasi talaga ito eh," Balanza said with confidence. "Ako, vision ko na, na pag balik ko, magcha-champion kami kasi yun ang pinaka-magandang plano ni God para sa akin and sa team, so 'yun, tignan mo ngayon, ilang [buwan] lang, nangyari na."  After taking Game 1, Letran only proved that they were indeed a real threat to the impending San Beda dynasty, but a heartbreakingly-close loss in Game 2 nearly crushed the Knights' resolve. The graduating team captain Balanza however, would not allow that to happen.  "After ng Game 2, talagang sobrang down, yung iba akala nila hindi na kami mananalo sa Game 3, pero hindi, ako as a captain, kailangan ko silang dalhin para maglaro kami sa Game 3, and sinimulan namin sa ensayo, na parang kami na yung champion, so yun, maganda yung kinalabasan." Indeed, Balanza, as well as fellow senior Bonbon Batiller and Finals MVP Fran Yu stepped up in a big way to lead Letran to another title, their second against San Beda in the last five seasons.  "Sobra, sobra, sobra, sobra talaga, alam mo yun? Speechless ka na lang talaga, masasabi ko na lang talaga is Thank you, Lord, napaka-buti niyo sa akin," Balanza said.  With Balanza's tenure in Letran over and done with, the two-time NCAA champ hopes to have left a culture of caring within the team. He hopes to see the Knights keep the title in Intramuros next season.  "Siyempre, ako, lagi ko sinasabi sa mga teammates ko eh, kasi ako lagi talaga akong nagke-care sa mga teammates ko kasi sila na yung pangalawa kong pamilya eh, kasi mas matagal ko silang kasama kaysa sa pamilya ko, so yun, sinasabi ko sa kanila na kung ano yung iiwan namin ni Bon dito, ganun parin yung dalhin niyo next year, kasi kung paano namin kayo binuo, kung paano tayo nag-buobuo dito, mas tibayan niyo next year, balik natin sa Letran community yung back-to-back." Next for Balanza will be the professional ranks, as he and fellow senior Batiller revealed that they will be declaring for the upcoming PBA draft.  "Finished business na eh," Balanza said with a smile. "Para sa family namin, mag-aapply na na kami.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2019

NCAA Finals: For the haters, Fran Yu drives Letran to championship

Fran Yu is the breakout star of all of the playoffs NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament. Without a doubt, just about everybody would recognize Colegio de San Juan de Letran's playmaker now. This, four years after he got bad vibes from social media when the 5-foot-10 playmaker was still playing for University of the East. "Dati, 'di ako makatulog. Wala namang akong ginawa sa kanila tapos gaganunin nila ako," he said. He then continued, "Naging motivation ko yung post na yun. Gusto kong i-prove na balewala ang hitsura mo pag naglalaro ka ng basketball." Back in 2015, Yu was a Red Warrior and a certain post questioned where he had come from - and, essentially, just who he was. Four years later, the now 21-year-old has an NCAA championship as well as a Finals MVP award. And with that, he has an answer for all those questions from before. "Hi, I'm Fran Yu and we are champions. Mas masarap ibalik yung paninira niya at ito, nagbunga dahil nag-champion kami," he said. He then continued, "Naging motivation nga yun sa akin dahil gusto kong patunayang dati, inaasar niyo ako pero ngaoyn, champion na kami. Mas masarap yung bawi namin!" Tell the truth, Fran Yu! You deserve to! --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2019

NCAA 95 Finals: ‘Unli donut’ reward awaits Letran

The Letran Knights can now feast on J.Co donuts all they want. Head coach Bonnie Tan promised his wards that they can stuff themselves with the sinfully sweet treat after hitting 19-of-19 free throws in the Knights 81-79 win over San Beda University to claim the NCAA Season 95 seniors’ basketball crown Tuesday at the MOA Arena. Letran went perfect from the line the whole game – the first flawless free throw shooting for the Knights this season. And it came in the most important game of the tournament. “First time,” said Tan, who like his wards Jerrick Balanza, Bonbon Batiller and Fran Yun was surprised when asked for a reaction about their foul line stats. “Sa practice lang kami minsan nakakapag-perfect sila but there’s always a reward pag nape-perfect nila ang free throw.” Here’s where the donuts - the J.Co brand - come in. Apparently, it has been a practice for the Knights to receive a reward of donuts for those who will make all their free throws during drills.     “Unang-una mayroon kaming reward sa kanila kapag napi-perfect nila ang free throw. We never stop practicing na hindi namin nata-top ang free throws namin,” said Tan. “Ang reward nila ay mayroon silang donut na pam-bonding nila sa dorm,” added Tan. “Every time na nakaka-perfect shot sila sa free throw drill namin, always may reward parati.” That’s around eight dozens of donuts the team partakes every time they perfect their free throw drills, according to Balanza, who himself shot 8-of-8 from the line.   Batiller ad King Carilipio chipped in 4-of-4 each, Yu had 2-of-2 while Ato Ular sank his lone charity for Letran. Yu and Ular, actually, nailed the most important of all the free throws. With the Red Lions making a run in the fourth, Ular completed a three-point play with 2:06 remaining for a 76-70 lead for the Knights. Yu made his in the last 15.9 seconds of the game, calmly sinking two to give Letran an 81-76 cushion which proved to be enough for the Knights to stave off the Red Lions to claim their 18th title overall and first since 2015. “Sa ngayon nag-champion sila, perfect [free throws], kahit na unlimited donuts sila,” Tan promised.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2019

Kanto guy Fran Yu delivers Finals MVP clapback

MANILA, Philippines – A virtual unknown early in NCAA Season 95, Letran guard Fran Yu surprisingly rose to legitimate star status when it mattered.  Proving that his heart is bigger than his height would allow, the 21-year-old went completely nuts in a three-game championship series for the ages as his Knights ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsNov 19th, 2019