NCAA:  KNIGHTS  COME  SHINING  THROUGH

MANILA, September 22, 2005 
(STAR) By Joey Villar - Letran anchored a do-or-die bid on a tough defense as it shackled Philippine Christian University, 78-60, yesterday to force a deciding Game 3 in the 81st NCAA basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.

Boyet Bautista paced the Knights with 19 points including 10 in a decisive second quarter run that set the tone for the rout as Letran tied the best-of-three title duel at one game apiece.

Despite their lethal firepower, the Knights controlled the tempo of the contest with their unforgiving defense.

"We executed our defense well compared to Game 1," said Letran coach Louie Alas, who is seeking a third title as a coach and 16th overall for the Muralla-based school.

Game 3 is set tomorrow at the same venue.

"We’re not celebrating yet because we have to play the mother of all battles on Friday" he said.

The 2003 champion put the cuffs on Jason Castro, who exploded with 21 points in a 79-74 PCU win Monday but was held to just 11 in Game Two.

With their defense holding and the diminutive but lightning-quick Bautista exploding, the Knights seized the initiative with a big run in the second period.

Bautista drained three triples in that quarter highlighted with a four-point play late in the canto for a 44-31 advantage.

He came through again after the break by igniting a 10-0 blast that saw the Knights erecting their biggest lead of the game, 54-33.

Last year’s rookie MVP Gabby Espinas, who scored 20 points in Game 1 and 21 yesterday, tried to spark a PCU last-gasp rally but the Dolphins fell short, their defeat hastened by sloppy ball-handling, poor shot selection and a porous defense.

Earlier, Eric Salamat and Paul Lee combined in a bristling fourth quarter run as San Sebastian trounced defending champion San Beda, 81-69, to clinch its first NCAA high school crown in 19 years.

Lee exploded for 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter that sealed the win for the Staglets, who took Game One, 83-76, for that sweep of the Red Cubs, the three-peat champs.

Salamat, 17, added 19 points including 10 in the last period to bag the MVP of the series trophy.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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