By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
RIGHT in the middle of the race for a Final Four spot in Season 94 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, both the Letran Knights and Perpetual Help Altas are gunning for key wins to boost their bids when they take on separate opponents today at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
The Knights, currently at third spot with an 8-4 record, take on the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals (2-10) at 2 p.m. while the season hosts Altas collide with the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers (2-11) at 4 p.m.
Muralla-based Letran got back on the winning track in its last game on Sept. 21 against the Mapua Cardinals, 84-69.
Saw themselves in a tight battle early on with the Cardinals, with the first quarter ending in a 19-all stalemate, the Knights cranked things up the rest of the way, towed by their old reliable, to give their playoff push a boost.
JP Calvo led the way for the Knights with a career-high 26 points on an efficient 9-of-13 shooting on the floor.
Fellow veteran Bong Quinto notched his third triple-double for the season by finishing with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, a showing that hardly came a surprise for his coach Jeff Napa.
“It’s easier for him to do it because he’s one of the leaders of the team and he is familiar with his teammates,” said Mr. Napa of Quinto.
Looking to stop Letran is EAC, which is out to break a six-game losing streak.
CONQUERORS OF PIRATES
Meanwhile, the Altas are coming off a high after dealing erstwhile undefeated Lyceum Pirates their first loss of the season, 83-81, also on Sept. 21.
Nigerian import Prince Eze was the hero in said game after scoring the winning basket with a tenth of second left on the clock off a putback from a missed triple attempt by Tonton Peralta.
It was the second buzzer-beater for Eze in Season 94 following his game-saving play over the San Sebastian Stags on Aug. 9 where he also beat the buzzer to give his team a 78-76 victory.
The win was the second straight for Las Pinas-based Perpetual Help after losing three straight prior that effectively halted its momentum.
Apart from the connecting on the game-winner, Eze had a monster double-double of 25 points and 23 rebounds to go along with two blocks.
Floor general Edgar Charcos had 20 points while AJ Coronel had 11 for the Altas.
“I have to give it to my guys. They really delivered,” said a proud Perpetual Help coach Frankie Lim after the contest.
Out to derail Perpetual Help’s momentum is tail-ending JRU, loser of its last five games.
Incidentally, for his splendid play against the Pirates, Eze was hailed NCAA player of the week.
In winning the award, handed out by the league press corps, Eze bested teammate Charcos, St. Benilde’s Justin Gutang, San Beda’s Robert Bolick, and Letran’s Quinto and Calvo.