MANILA, Philippines – After seven failed attempts, defending champion Letran finally earned its first victory in the NCAA Season 99 men’s basketball tournament after defeating San Sebastian 86-71 at the San Juan Arena on Wednesday.
To add more luster to the Knights’ latest conquest, they defeated the Golden Stags without their star guard Kurt Reyson, who is currently nursing a groin injury.
“Without Kurt, we actually saw the real matches of the other players here. They showed that they are also winners, that even without our captaincy they showed up and took up the challenge,” coach Rensy Bajar said in Filipino.
Reyson suffered the injury a few days ago during Letran’s loss to Perpetual Help. It is doubtful he will play in the Knights’ upcoming finals rematch against College of St. Benilde on Sunday.
Deo Cuajao led the Knights with 14 points, five rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block to hand Letran a 1-7 card. Neil Guarino and Kobe Monje also helped the cause with 13 markers each.
Rafael Are’s game-high 20 points were all for naught as the Golden Stags crashed to a 3-5 record. Romel Calahat had a double-double with 14 markers and 11 boards, but to no avail.
WATCH: Neil Guarino after helping the Knights get their first win of the season against the Golden Stags. He finished with 13 points. #NCAASeason99 | via Melo Fuertes/Inquirer Sports
Posted by Researcher Sports on Wednesday, October 18, 2023
MAPUA REMAINS RED HOT
League leader Mapua, meanwhile, recorded five straight victories at the expense of Arellano, 79-65.
Warren Bonifacio rallied the Cardinals with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, while JC Recto and Kobe Dalisay increased their offense with 12 points each to remain the league’s best player at 7-1.
Lars Sunga had 16 markers and seven boards in a losing effort, while Danielle Mallari scored five in a loss that left the Chiefs at 1-7.