MANILA, Philippines – First, the Knights valiantly cut the Red Lions’ 18-0 run and then as if it were not enough, Letran spoilt San Beda’s four-peat title bid to the hilt.
All these unfolded in a cutthroat do-or-die Game 3 in the 95th NCAA Season men’s basketball tournament Finals Tuesday (20 November 2019) where the Knights completed their magical ride through a heart-stopping 81-79 heartbreaker win over their fierce archrivals Red Lions.
Thusly, Letran captured their first men’s basketball championship in four years or since 2015.
It was Jerrick Balanza who took charge when it mattered most as he gave the necessary buffer Letran needed as they thwarted all comeback efforts by the Lions and spoilt San Beda’s bid for a fourth straight crown.
It was also the Knights who arrested the Red Lions’ six-peat title bid to etch their place in NCAA history back in 2015.
And history did repeat itself as Letran crushed their rivals’ three-peat run while claiming a diadem of their own in the Grand Old League before a mammoth crowd of over 19,000 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Red Lions pulled off a perfect 18-0 elimination win loss card and they had a shot at extending their reign.
Letran, however, also showed steely nerves at the crunch while putting up a solid and cohesive defense in the dying seconds and blocked Evan Nelle’s final attempt to win Game 3. (IAMIGO/CNS)