Tue 28 June 2022

NCAA: Yu, Paraiso shine as perfect Letran poised to defend title

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Colegio de San Juan de Letran remain perfect in Season 97 of the NCAA seniors basketball tournament, repulsing Mapua University in come-from-behind fashion, 68-63, in Game One of the Finals Sunday at the San Juan Arena. 

Reigning finals most valuable player Fran Yu, backcourt partner Brent Paraiso, and pro-bound center Jeo Ambohot conspired in the end game to spoil the entry of the wide-eye Cardinals, who have entered the finals for the first time since 1991.

Clawing back from a nine-point deficit from the first quarter and recovering from the injury of top player Rhenz Abando in the third, the Knights regained the lead for the first time with Yu trickling in a pull-up jumper in the final two minutes for a 62-61 lead.

Ambohot thereafter scored on a driving layup, outrunning his defender by issuing a fake pass to Yu, to extend the lead.

Letran then created a two-possession lead with ten seconds left as Yu, attracting three defenders, bounced a pass to a wide open Paraiso, who casually banked an inside stab en route to the win.

Paraiso, the former back-up shooting guard of University of Santo Tomas (UST), co-led with 14 points, five rebounds, five assists, and zero turnovers.

Power forward Louie Sangalang also scored 14 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and blocked two shots.

Abando, also a UST transferee, chipped in 13 points and seven boards in 19 minutes of play.

Mapua, as usual, found strength in numbers as nine players scored in the game led by center Warren Bonifacio and power forward Arvin Gamboa with 10 points each.

The Knights will attempt to finish the season with the crown and a perfect record in Game Two next Sunday, May 22, also at the San Juan Arena.

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