Bonbon Batiller buried the go-ahead triple as Colegio de San Juan de Letran fended off Mapua University, 89-84, to keep its winning streak alive in Season 95 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) seniors basketball tournament on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Graduating guard Batiller hit a three-pointer at the shot clock buzzer and with 19.1 seconds left in the game, powering the No. 3 Knights to their fifth straight win against a season-opening loss.
Despite continuing their hot streak, Letran head coach Bonnie Tan was still dissatisfied with his wards performance.
“We’re happy with the win but it’s still a bad game for us,” said first-year mentor Tan, whose team—seen as a strong contender this year—has yet to post a convincing win.
“We always say that we’re still learning but when will we really learn. Though it’s embarrassing to say but that is what’s happening with our team,” he added.
Last season’s Rookie of the Year Larry Muyang pumped in a game-high 24 points to go with nine rebounds while Batiller tallied 15 markers, four boards, three assists and a steal for the Knights.
Jeo Ambohot added 14 points and Jerrick Balanza chipped in 11 markers in the narrow victory.
Letran unleashed a 12-4 run behind Balanza and Fran Yu to turn a precarious 66-63 lead into a 78-67 advantage at the 5:02 mark of the payoff period.
But the pesky Mapua moved within striking distance, 84-86, on Christian Buñag’s putback with 33.9 seconds remaining.
With the shot clock winding down, Batiller received a pass from Balanza then sank the dagger trey to seal the deal for the Knights.
Big man Buñag’s double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds along with guard Laurenz Victoria’s 15 markers went down the drain as the Cardinals remained winless in five games.
Noah Lugo had 12 points, seven boards and six assists while Warren Bonifacio had 10 markers in the losing effort.
Earlier in the juniors division, defending champion Mapua finally got its breakthrough victory after pulling off a comeback 92-90 win over Letran.
Hector Buenaflor scored a team-high 20 points but it was Jonnel Policarpio’s near triple-double with 19 markers, 15 rebounds and nine assists that carried the Red Robins to their first triumph after a four-game losing start.
Charles Saure had a 21-point, 10-board double-double while Shawn Argente had 20 markers and Andrei Romenez had 17 points for the Squires, who slid to 2-4.
LETRAN (89) – Muyang 24, Batiller 15, Ambohot 14, Balanza 11, Yu 8, Ular 6, Sangalang 4, Olivario 3, Mina 2, Javillonar 2, Caralipio 0, Reyson 0.
MAPUA (84) – Buñag 17, Victoria 15, Lugo 12, Bonifacio 10, Gamboa 9, Salenga 6, Gonzales 5, Hernandez 5, Nieles 3, Garcia 2, Serrano 0, Nocum 0, Jabel 0.
Quarter scores: 19-16, 40-39, 66-60, 89-84