NCAA:  SAN SEBASTIAN STAGS STRONG FINISH CRIPPLES  LETRAN KNIGHTS

MANILA,  July 31, 2004
 
(STAR)
By Joey Villar - San Sebastian leaned on the endgame heroics of Chris Baluyot and Leo Najorda to beat a crippled but fierce-fighting Letran squad, 72-68, at the close of the first round of the NCAA seniors basketball tournament preliminaries at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum yesterday.

Baluyot sank a triple then Najorda completed a three-point play as the Stags shattered a 64-all standoff and went on to notch a fourth win against three losses.

San Sebastian caught up with Letran at third behind front-runner Perpetual Help (6-1) and the second-running Mapua Tech (5-2).

Earlier, Jose Rizal survived St . Benilde, 84-72, for its second straight victory and third overall against four defeats.

Marco Fajardo, only on his third game after recovering from a sprained ankle, sizzled with 25 points while McDonald Santos added 15 and Michael Magtahao contributed 13 for the Heavy Bombers.

Magtahao banged in a three-point that stretched Jose Rizalís shaky two-point lead to five, 74-69, entering the final stretch.

The absence of the suspended Ronjay Enrile obviously took its toll on the Knights at endgame as the Intramuros-based squad suffered a second straight defeat following a 68-71 loss to the Perpetual Altas last Friday.

Jonathan Aldave, rookie JP Alcaraz and Aaron Aban all scored in double figures but couldnít deliver when needed the most in the end.

Boyet Bautista, Enrileís backcourt tandem, was worse as he struggled for only seven points.

Poor free throw shooting didnít help Letran as it muffed 14 of 26 charities. San Sebastian, in contrast, went 26-of-35 from the stripe.

While Letran struggled without Enrile, the Stags, on the other hand, had to make do with big men Pep Moore and Raymond Aguilar rooted on the bench on a fractured finger and fouls, respectively.

Red Vicente, Francis de Leon and Jason Ballesteros helped Baluyot and Najorda in winning it for the Stags.

Vicente chipped in 13 markers, Ballesteros add six while De Leon logged four points and the same number of blocks.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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