Colegio de San Juan de Letran knew that in order to beat College of Saint Benilde-La Salle Green Hills, it had to figure out how to keep the so-called ‘twin towers’ of Luis Pablo and Seven Gagate under control.
Despite the Squires’ efforts, though, Pablo and Gagate still churned out big performances with the former pouring in 22 points and 19 rebounds and the latter finishing with 12 markers and 13 boards.
But even with the Greenies’ frontcourt playing well, Letran did enough to clinch an 85-81 comeback win in Game 1 of their best-of-three finals affair to move one win away from the title.
Letran head coach Allen Ricardo shared that it was about going back to the basics when having to deal with LSGH’s two stars.
“Well that’s the plan, primary defense and rebounds. Syempre knowing those two guys, ‘pag na-outrebound ‘yan, may second chance points,” he said.
(“Well that’s the plan, primary defense and rebounds. Of course, knowing those two guys, if they outrebound you, that translates to second chance points.”)
“So basically, we tried to keep the game simple—play defense, get rebounds then that’s it.”
Letran had a tough start, trailing by as much as 12 points early in the game but thanks to the likes of Syrex Silorio, Andy Gemao, and George Diamante, the Squires were able to pull off the hard-fought victory.
“Medyo flat kami nung first half but I just told the boys na just focus on the little things. Don’t stop playing defense and sa opensa, once we forced them to a turnover or getting those defensive rebounds, we tried to push the ball,” Ricardo added.
“So kailangan lang natin makakuha ng momentum para magtuloy-tuloy. Sa awa ng Diyos, pagdating ng second half, nakuha natin.”
(“We were kind of flat in the first half but I just told the boys to focus on the little things. Don’t stop playing defense, and on offense, once we forced them to a turnover or getting those defensive rebounds, we tried to push the ball… So we just needed to get some momentum to keep it going and by the grace of God, we got it in the second half.”)
—JMB, GMA Integrated News
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