Stags bare chinks in Knights armor
Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - August 25, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The San Sebastian Stags dealt Letran Knights their second defeat with an 89-87 victory to erase the residue of their bitter loss to the same team and stay alive in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament yesterday.

Ryan Costelo squeezed in a scooped shot in traffic in the last 9.4 seconds then the Stags pounced on Mark Cruz’s turnover in the ensuing play to claim the win at The Arena in San Juan City yesterday.

Michael Calisaan fired 27 points, including 17 in the third quarter, while Costelo drilled in eight of his 13 points in the last 10 minutes, the last two shoving the Stags for good at 88-87.

The Knights still had a chance to turn things around but Cruz, who had earlier completed a tough three-point play to keep Letran in the game, fumbled a pass, paving the way for a Calisaan split that sealed the Stags’ come-from-behind victory.

The win was only the third for the Stags against seven defeats but more importantly, it gave them the boost and the confidence with still eight games left in their second round schedule. It also avenged their 76-82 defeat to the Knights in the first round in a game the Stags controlled majority of the way before faltering in the end.

This time, they forced the Knights to wilt under pressure.

“I told the players to play with pride because we know in our hearts that we won our first game against them,” said San Sebastian coach Rodney Santos, whose Stags rallied from as many as 11 points down early in the fourth.

The SSC upset also enabled San Beda, which earlier downed Emilio Aguinaldo, 96-84, to force a tie on top at 8-2.

Arthur dela Cruz, picked by Blackwater at ninth overall in the PBA Draft last Sunday, shot a career-high 30 points he spiked with 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Amiel Soberano also came off the bench to fire a career-best 20 points, including four triples, as the Lions never looked back after seizing control midway in the second period en route to victory that somehow atoned for their 84-88 defeat to the Arellano U Chiefs last week.

“What can I say, their stats speak for itself,” said San Beda coach Jamike Jarin of dela Cruz and Soberano, who stepped up in the absence of Nigerian Ola Adeogun.

Francis Munsayac paced EAC with 20 points, including five from behind-the-arc while Cameroonian Laminou Hamadou had 18 points for the Generals, who fell to 2-8.

ACIRC AMIEL SOBERANO ARELLANO U CHIEFS CAMEROONIAN LAMINOU HAMADOU CRUZ CRUZ AND SOBERANO EMILIO AGUINALDO FRANCIS MUNSAYAC JAMIKE JARIN LETRAN KNIGHTS SAN BEDA
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