Ruaya shines as Knights slay Lions, 74-67
Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - August 24, 2013 - 8:48pm

MANILA, Philippines - Letran drew strength from an unusual source as it soared mightily over last year's finals tormentor San Beda and hacked out a 74-67 victory to zoom back to the top in the 89th NCAA basketball tournament amid a sea of red and blue at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Saturday.

Reneford Ruaya, a 23-year-old rookie transferee from Pamantasang Lungsod ng Muntinlupa, came through when nobody's looking and scored a career-high 15 points, including a clutch in the stretch as the Knights closed the first round atop the heap with an 8-1 (win-loss) record.

Nigerian Ola Adeogun bested Raymond Almazan in a classic showdown between two of the league's best players with game-highs 27 points and 15 rebounds against the latter's 22 and 11.

But the 6-7 Almazan, who leads everyone in the MVP race, had the last laugh as he made the plays that mattered most to beat Adeogun and the same Lions squad that swept them in last year's finale.

"I couldn't sleep last night thinking of this game and Ola Adeogun because I really thinking of our loss to them in last year's finals," said Almazan, who is applying for the PBA rookie draft late this year, in Filipino.

For Letran coach Caloy Garcia, it was the best way to bounce back from a painful 66-80 defeat to the Perpetual Help Altas last Aug. 15 for their first defeat of the year.

"It's a test of character for us because we're coming from a loss to Perpetual," said Garcia.

The Lions fell to second with a 7-2 card, half a game ahead of No. 3 Perpetual with a 6-2 slate.

In juniors' action, five-peat feat-seeking San Beda overpowered Letran, 100-86, to complete a mighty nine-game sweep of the first round.

Former national youth team mainstays Rev Deputado, Arvin Tolentino and Ranbill Tongco fired 24, 19 and 18 points, respectively, to power the Cubs to a third straight sweep of the first round.

Meanwhile, league commissioner Joe Lipa meted out a two-game suspension of Arellano U's James Forrester and one-game ban on Emilio Aguinaldo's Sydney Onwubere for their unsportmanlike acts in the Generals' 79-63 win over the Chiefs last August 17.

Forrester, a Fil-Canadian, served the first of his suspension in yesterday's game that Arellano U won over Jose Rizal, 67-64.

Kieth Agovida, Prince Caperal, John Pinto and another Fil-Canadian Adam Serjue stepped up in the absence of Forrester by combining for 46 points as the Chiefs halted a four-game slide and improved to 3-6 (win-loss) record.

The Bombers, who led almost all throughout the match, got solid efforts from John Pontejos and Phil Paniamogan with 18 and 13 points, respectively, but got nothing else from the rest as they fell to 5-4.

Agovida, who owns the second highest score in a game in the country after exploding for 82 points for the Jose Rizal Light Bombers five years ago, shone the brightest with eight fourth quarter points to help seal his team the win.

"I told my players I don't need them to play a perfect game, I only want them to have a perfect effort," said Arellano U coach Koy Banal.

The scores:

First Game

Arellano U 67- Caperal 12, Agovida 12, Pinto 12, Serjue 10, Hernandez 9, Jalalon 6, Gumaru 3, Nicholls 2, Enriquez 1, Salcedo 0, Cadavis 0

Jose Rizal 64- Pontejos 18, Paniamogan 13, Dela Paz 9, Mabulac 7, Lasquety 4, Balagtas 4, Benavides 3, Salaveria 2, Grospe 2, Abanto 2

Quarterscores: 12-14; 24-30; 46-55; 67-64

Second Game

Letran 74- Almazan 22, Ruaya 15, Racal 14, Cruz 13, Nambatac 8, Luib 2, Castro 0, Tambeling 0, Buenaflor 0, Gabawan 0, Publico 0

San Beda 67- Adeogun 27, Amer 15, A. Semerad 8, dela Rosa 6, Koga 5, D. Semerad 2, dela Cruz 2, Abarcar 0, Mendoza 0, Ludovice 0

ADEOGUN AGOVIDA ALMAZAN ARELLANO U ARVIN TOLENTINO AND RANBILL TONGCO CALOY GARCIA GAME JOSE RIZAL LETRAN SAN BEDA
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