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Knights oust Chiefs, face Stags next

MANILA, Philippines — Jeo Ambohot hit a putback in the last 3.3 seconds as Letran hacked out a pulsating 70-68 victory over Arellano U in the first of two playoffs for the last Final Four berth in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan yesterday.

The Knights blew a double-digit lead in the third quarter but pulled through in a rugged endgame battle marked by clutch triples on both sides but marred by the Chiefs’ errant inbound play in the dying seconds that enabled the Muralla-based squad to snatch victory and move to another sudden death.

The Knights will next face the San Sebastian Stags in the other playoff for the fourth Final Four slot at the MOA Arena on Tuesday with the winner moving to the stepladder semis against the No. 3 Jose Rizal Bombers.

The winner will next collide with the second-seeded San Beda Lions on Nov. 7 also at the MOA Arena.

Lyceum completed a historic 18-0 sweep of the double round elims and gained an outright berth in the best-of-three finals.

Down by a point, 67-68, the Knights went to top gun Rey Nambatac, who drove and missed but the 6-6 Ambohot scored on an unmolested follow-up to put Letran back on top with 3.3 seconds left in the contest.

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The Chiefs had a couple of chances to steal the game but blew them both.

Behind, 68-69, Arellano designed an alley-oop play for Lervin Flores but Levi dela Cruz’s inbound pass hit the rim instead of the intended board.

JP Calvo’s split gave Letran a two-point cushion while leaving AU two tenths of a second for one last desperation play to either tie or steal the game.

But Zach Nicholls’ heave from way out fell short of target, allowing the Knights to escape with the triumph.

Nambatac found the right time to explode, firing a game-high 25 points although he was held scoreless in the last nine minutes.

But in the end, Ambohot, who sustained a fractured right wrist that sidelined him for more than a month, stepped up and delivered.

“It was a team effort but his (Ambohot) shot was huge,” said Letran coach Jeff Napa.


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