NCAA: LETRAN KNIGHTS CROWNED NC CHAMPS
MANILA, September 24, 2005 (STAR) By Joey Villar - Letran showed poise and spunk in the game that mattered most to upend Philippine Christian University, 62-54, and claim the 81st NCAA basketball crown before over 14, 000 fans at the Araneta Coliseum yesterday.
The Knights drew explosive performance from Boyet Bautista, who earned the finals Most Valuable Player plum as he combined with Aaron Aban and John Paul Alcaraz to give Letran the initiative throughout en route to its 16th title overall.
The three Knights fired 13 points each but it was Bautista who fired up his teammates in a decisive four-minute charge when the Knights outscored the Dolphins, 13-7, to finally rule the tournament they dominated with a superb run in the eliminations.
It was Bautista’s second Finals MVP honor, earning the first in the Muralla-based school’s reign two years ago.
"Gusto ko talagang manalo," said the 21-year-old Bautista.
It also produced heroes in Alcaraz and Aban, who came through in the stretch as Letran re-established its position as the league’s top basketball school.
"We never stopped believing in ourselves from day one," said Letran coach Louie Alas, who has now three titles, with the first two coming in 2003 and 1998.
The victory was also sweet for Mark Andaya, Frederick Rodriguez and Alcaraz, capping their final year with the Knights with an NCAA crown.
The Dolphins, who came into the game wearing white jerseys and blue shorts for good luck, struggled with a poor start reminiscent of their stint in Game Two but furiously fought back to come to within two points by holding the Knights to just five points in the third canto.
PCU, however, couldn’t get any closer as the shifty Bautista presided over a crucial romp by the Knights together with Rodriguez and Aban in the fourth quarter.
Alcaraz and Bautista ignited the Knights’ early offensive binge, combining for four triples as the team seized control and posted a 23-18 advantage in the first quarter.
Letran then sustained that momentum and mounted 10-point leads twice, the last at 35-25, before closing the half with a nine-point edge, 38-29.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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