By Joey Villar
JEO Ambohot dished out a career performance and powered Letran to a 96-67 demolition of Arellano University (AU) on Wednesday and into the top in the 97th National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament at the La Salle Greenhills Gym in Mandaluyong.
The 6-7 team captain exploded with 20 points, his best in his collegiate career thus far, in just 16 and a half minutes to go with eight rebounds, three assists and a block that sealed the Knights their second straight win.
The effort was in stark contrast to the Muralla-based dribblers’ 67-63 win over the College of St. Benilde Blazers in Saturday’s opener in a game the former fought back from 12 points down.
And Letran coach Bonnie Tan believes the reigning titlist still has more to give.
“We’re still a work in progress,” said Mr. Tan.
Unlike in their first game where they came to their senses late, the Knights needed just a quarter to get their bearings going as they outscored the Chiefs in the second canto, 21-9, to turn a slim 20-17 lead to a 41-26 upper hand.
It was all Letran from there as AU, which lost its best player Justin Arana to injury in its last game on Sunday, was never the same.
Tommy Olivario came off the bench to chip in 15 points and seven assists and had his moment late in the third period when he buried a buzzer-beating triple.
And on this one, the Knights did not need super transferee Rhenz Abando and starting point guard Fran Yu.
Mr. Abando had 11 points and spliced it with seven boards, two blocks, a steal and an assist while Mr. Yu went scoreless but did his damage in other areas with six caroms and five dimes.
And credit that to Mr. Ambohot coming through with an effort to remember.
“I just did what’s best for the team and I couldn’t do this without my team’s help,” said Mr. Ambohot.
The Chiefs fell to 1-1.
In the other game, San Beda outgunned a feisty Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) in the second half and eked out an 85-81 win to join Letran at the helm also with two wins.
Tied at 41-all, the Lions went on a shooting spree in the third quarter to build a double-digit cushion it used to weather a fourth quarter storm by the Generals.
EAC sputtered to 0-2.
Letran 96 – Ambohot 20, Olivario 15, Abando 11, Sangalang 10, Caralipio 9, Reyson 6, Javillonar 6, Mina 5, Paraiso 4, Lantaya 4, Fajarito 3, Guarino 3, Yu 0, Tolentino 0
Arellano 67 – Doromal 11, Carandang 11, Sablan 9, Caballero 7, Cruz 7, Valencia 6, Oliva 4, Steinl 4, Abastillas 3, Sta. Ana 3, Talampas 2, Uri 0, dela Cruz 0, Concepcion 0
Quarterscores: 20-17; 41-26; 66-51; 96-67
San Beda 85 – Kwekuteye 16, Gallego 15, Amsali 13, Penuela 13, Alfaro 9, Bahio 5, Andrada 4, Abuda 3, Sanchez 3, Ynot 3, Cuntapay 1, Cometa 0, Visser 0, Jopia 0, Villejo 0
EAC 81 – Robin 19, Maguliano 14, Taywan 13, Luciano 9, Liwag 7, Quinal 6, Fuentes 6, Dopria Ad. 3, Bunyi 2, Gurtiza 2, Cosa 0, Ampad 0, Doria An. 0
Quarterscores: 20-17; 41-all; 70-58; 85-81