Phenomenal Cruz lifts Knights over Bombers in OT thriller
By Joey Villar Updated Friday August 22, 2014 - 5:42pm

Games Saturday

(The Arena, San Juan)

12 p.m. - Perpetual Help vs Lyceum (jrs)

2:30 p.m. - Perpetual Help vs Lyceum (srs)

MANILA, Philippines - Mark Cruz came through with a career game as he lifted Letran to a pulsating 84-77 overtime victory over Jose Rizal to bolster its Final Four bid in the 90th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City Friday.

The diminutive but big-hearted Cruz came through with his best scoring game thus far, firing 26 points, including 10 in the extension period, to power the Knights to their fourth win against six losses while keeping them in the hunt for a Final Four berth.

"I wasn't able to contribute in the fourth quarter so when we managed to send it to overtime, I told myself not blow this second chance to help the team," said Cruz, who went scoreless in the fourth canto before going on a scoring spree in OT.

Kevin Racal, the other Letran leader, located a surprisingly open Jamil Gabawan inside, threw a bullet inbound pass that the latter caught and turned it into a basket that knotted the count at 70-all with 30 seconds to go.

It turned out the play that forced OT for Letran.

And then Cruz took charge, knocking down a couple of booming triples that gave Letran an eight-point cushion and hit four foul shots that zapped the last fight out of Jose Rizal.

While Cruz handled most of the scoring, Racal did the dirty work and finished with seven points, six rebounds and five assists.

"They are the leaders of this team and I'm not surprised they're stepping up when we needed them to do so," said Letran coach Caloy Garcia referring to Cruz and Racal.

Philip Paniamogan led Jose Rizal by matching his career-best 26 points.

The Cagayan de Oro native looked headed to surpassing his current best after erupting for 24 in the first three quarters. But he was held to just two points from there that contributed greatly to the Bombers' loss, their fourth against six wins.

It was also game that saw the two teams combine for a season-worst 56 turnovers - 29 from Letran and 27 from Jose Rizal - that allowed the Knights 28 turnover points and the Bombers a point more with 29.

Rey Nambatac chipped in 21 points to help in the cause.

In juniors' play, the Squires held the Light Bombers to just seven points in the fourth quarter to eke out a 47-39 win and jump into a share of the lead with the idle San Beda Cubs with an 8-2 (win-loss) mark.

The scores:

First Game (jrs)

Letran 47 - Dungan 9, Gonzales 9, Balanza 9, Ramirez 7, Rubite 5, Magsino 4, Gedaria 2, David 2, Caunan 0, Bernardo 0, Villasis 0

Jose Rizal 39 - Estrella 16, Astrero 8, Dada 6, Agustin 4, dela Virgen 3, Anonuevo 1, Anore 1, Rodas 0, Ross 0

Quarterscores: 9-8; 19-18; 31-32; 47-49

Second Game (srs)

Letran 84 - Cruz 26, Nambatac 21, Tambeling 12, Quinto 8, Racal 7, Gabawan 5, Saldua 3, Ruaya 2, Luib 0, Dela Pena 0, Singontiko 0, Publico 0

Jose Rizal 77 - Paniamogan 26, Abdul Wahab 13, Mabulac 10, Lasquety 8, Sanchez 6, Teodoro 5, Asuncion 4, Grospe 3, Benavides 2, Balagtas 0

Quarterscores: 9-14; 34-33; 58-57; 70-all; 84-77 (OT)

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AU Chiefs 13 4
SBC Red Lions 13 5
UPHSD Altas 12 6
JRU Heavy Bombers 12 6
CSB Blazers 11 6
CSJL Knights 8 9
LPU Pirates 6 11
SSC Stags 5 13
MIT Cardinals 4 14
EAC Generals 4 14


Wednesday, October 8, 2014 @ San Juan Arena
12:00 PM - Game 1 - Jrs/Srs
4:00 PM - Game 2 - Srs/Jrs