By Jerome Lagunzad
Letran put an end to an alarming skid in the 93rd NCAA seniors basketball tournament on Tuesday night and that’s enough to make Knights coach Jeff Napa’s 37th birthday more special.
“Maganda birthday gift sa akin ‘yun ng mga bata,” said Napa in a phone interview, a day after Letran pulled off a morale-boosting 84-73 victory over Arellano University that stopped its three-game losing streak at The Arena in San Juan City.
More importantly, Letran improved its mark to an even 6-6 mark, tied Emilio Aguinaldo College at fourth spot and kept itself in strong contention for a Final Four berth with six games to spare.
“Napaka-importante ng bawat panalo ngayon lalo na’t dikit-dikit ang mag teams na nasa gitna. Maraming pwedeng mangyari. At least, we took care of our own business. Pambwelo sa amin ‘yung panalo.”
And the Knights should be eager to use that as a springboard since they will be bracing for a relatively light – yet tricky – stretch in the next eight days.
Up next for Letran is free-falling Mapua tomorrow before it takes on host San Sebastian, another strong semifinal contender, on Tuesday and EAC on Friday.
“It’s a great chance for us to start a winning streak. We’ve been blowing hot and cold but I’m still confident na kakayanin pa rin namin makaabot sa Final Four,” said Napa. “Hopefully, ma-sustain ng mga bata kung ano man ang pinakita nila last time.”
Against the Chiefs, veterans JP Calvo and Bong Quinto finally played true to their forms, leading the team’s attack with 20 points each, while top gun Rey Nambatac provided the stability and leadership in what turned out to be the most impressive victory by the Knights thus far.