Letran Knights complete sweep of Mapua to win NCAA basketball crown

·2 min read

The Letran Knights took down the Mapua Cardinals, 75-65, to complete a 2-0 sweep and win the championship in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Rhenz Abando, who played through an ankle injury, had a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds to help the Knights capture their 19th NCAA men’s basketball title. In addition, Letran also became the first team to fashion out an undefeated season since San Beda posted a 18-0 record in 2010.

The Knights were relentless after the first 10 minutes of play, taking a 19-8 lead on a King Caralipio's buzzer-beating putback.

Looking sharp despite a right foot injury he sustained in the opener, Abando got his rhythm and scored his first basket of the game at the 5:47 mark of the second period as Letran opened a 29-15 advantage.

The Knights led by as much as 21 points in the second half before the Cardinals made a last-gasp uprising, cutting down the deficit to 65-70 on a Paulo Hernandez triple.

Abando then scored a floater and two free throws for Letran to gain the needed separation at 74-65 with 1:13 remaining.

Pro-bound Jeo Ambohot, whose go-ahead basket in the final 45 seconds of Game 1 keyed the Knights the come-from-behind 68-63 victory, was named the Finals MVP after finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds in the clincher.

Mark Sangalang, Letran's bruising big man, was also solid with 11 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.

The Knights prevailed despite losing Brent Paraiso, who was ejected with 5:11 left in the third period for an unsportsmanlike foul after getting a technical foul earlier in the game.

Hernandez and Rence Nocum each had 14 points for Mapua.

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