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SSC ousts Letran, goes up vs JRU

San Sebastian’s Michael Calisaan finds an open spot for a jumper against the defense of Jerrick Balanza and JP Calvo of Letran during their knockout duel for the last semifinal berth in the NCAA seniors tournament. MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

Games Friday (MOA Arena)

11 a.m. – San Beda vs La Salle Greenhills (Jrs)

1 p.m. – Mapua vs Letran (Jrs)

3:30 p.m. – San Sebastian vs Jose Rizal (Srs)

MANILA, Philippines — San Sebastian held off Letran in an intense do-or-die contest for the last Final Four berth, 74-69, and remained in contention in the 93rd NCAA seniors basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

Michael Calisaan buried a three-pointer with 18.3 seconds left to lead the Stags to victory and another knockout match against third seed Jose Rizal University in the stepladder semis on Friday.

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Calisaan finished with 36 points, 19 of them in the first half, but felt it all would have gone to naught if they didn’t get the victory.

The 6-foot-3 forward knew he had to take the shot.

“Sabi ni coach pag natanggap ko, itira ko (Coach said if I got the ball, I can take the shot),” said Calisaan after a superb all-around game. He went 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, 9-of-14 from close range and 3-of-3 from the stripe, all on top of 10 rebounds.

Ryan Costelo also hit the big shots for San Sebastian, scoring nine of his 13 points in the final quarter.

“They are my veterans,” said Stags coach Egay Macaraya, who celebrated his 56th birthday with the victory that kept his team in the hunt for the second finals berth.

The Knights, who won the title in 2015, took a 68-65 lead in the final 2:35, and their fans had begun to celebrate in the stands.

But they were held to a single free throw the rest of the way, and kissed their semis hopes goodbye.

Jeremiah Taladua and Bong Quinto combined for 31 points for Letran but the Knights couldn’t hit the baskets they badly needed in the end.

After the buzzer, some of the Knights dropped to the floor as the Stags celebrated on the other end.

On Friday, the Stags will face the JRU Heavy Bombers for the right to meet the second-ranked San Beda Red Lions.

Waiting in the wings and already in the finals are the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates, who completed a rare 18-game sweep of the double-round eliminations.

“We deserve to be in the Final Four (semis). It’s different now. The boys want to go all the way and win the championship,” said Macaraya.

In the juniors division, La Salle Greenhills turned back San Sebastian, 108-82, to set up a semis date with twice-to-beat San Beda. The other pairing pits Letran against twice-to-beat Mapua.

The scores:

San Sebastian 74 – Calisaan 36, Costelo 13, Ilagan 6, Navarro 6, Valdez 4, David 3, Gayosa 3, Bulanadi 2, Baetiong 1, Calma 0, Capobres 0, Mercado 0.

Letran 69 – Taladua 16, Quinto 15, Calvo 11, Nambatac 11, Vacaro 8, Ambohot 3, Balanza 3, Balagasay 2, Mandreza 0, Gedaria 0.

Quarterscores: 18-16, 32-30, 53-54, 74-69

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