The Letran Knights pose after winning the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball championship.
Joey Mendoza
From cramps to champs: Knights overcome late-game pain to bag NCAA crown 
Dante Navarro ( - November 19, 2019 - 7:38pm

MANILA, Philippines – The dying seconds of the Letran-San Beda sudden death for the NCAA crown Tuesday night saw the Knights’ Bonbon Batiller and Fran Yu grimace in pain while being lifted one after the other from the court to their bench due to cramps.

Moments later, coach Bonnie Tan found himself also being hoisted, this time not for any injury but for the victory that meant so much for two of his gritty Knights.

“Arriba, Letran!” hollered Batiller and Yu, again one after the other, after the Knights pulled off an 81-79 thriller before more than 19,000 fans at the MOA Arena and hundreds of thousands more at home.

“First of all, I thank God, my family, the team and Letran community for their support,” said Batiller, whose past duels with the Lions all ended in him on the losing end.

“Every time we play San Beda, it seemed that I always of no help (to my team),” said the former UE Warrior, whose botched underneath shot in the stretch in Game Two would’ve clinched the championship for the Knights Friday.

“But I told myself that there’s still time (to redeem myself). At ngayon ‘yon,” he said before adding in jest: “Hindi na nadulas yung bola.”

Like Batiller, the spitfirish Yu, who shone brightest with his long-range bombs in Game Two before cramping out, considered their triumph as some sort of a vindication, saying: “I’m so thankful that I was given a second chance. There’s nothing I could give, I gave everything I’ve got.”

The rest, including Tan, also gave their best and the Knights, who broke the Lions’ bid for a perfect season with a 65-64 escape in Game One, snared the coveted championship in a triumph that likewise brought back memories of the Muralla-based school’s feat 40 years ago when the then Knights, led by Itoy Esguerra and Bong Aninon, foiled Chito Loyzaga and Jayvee Yango-led Lions’ bid for a sweep of the double-round elims that would’ve netted them the outright championship in Season 54.

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