The Lateran’s perfect season ended with the NCAA Season 97 Men’s Basketball Trophy in hand, and if the Knights expand their imagination with the goal of another title in the year, it’s not really a wishful thinking.
With Rookie-Most Valuable Player (MVP) Rhenz Abando still on board, the Knights could train their sights in the third consecutive Championship which could be a few months from now, after finishing the Mapua Cardinal, 75-65, to fly their best to win their best. Three title series on Sunday at V Center.
Not too far away with September as the opening target of season 98.
With the exception of pro-bound Geo Ambohot, Allen Mina and Christian Fazarito, Latron’s deadly core remains intact, making the Knights favorites for another title race.
“Right now, I’m glad I finally became a champion,” said Abando, who reached his dream after a failed attempt to secure a collegiate trophy with another school in rival UAAP.
Abando sprained the sprained left ankle from the dust he had sustained in Game 1, playing in such a way that nothing happened then, scoring 14 points and hours after the cart off with the MVP and Rookie of the Year award and a legendary five selection. Dropped 12 rebounds.
“I did not join [PBA] Draft because I want to play with Latron for one more year and hopefully win another championship, “added Abando.
Ambot’s skill and patience were similarly on full display, punctuating his collegiate career with a Finals MVP Plum that really deserved. He finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, most of his points around the rim, especially in the fourth that kept the Cardinals away.
Successfully defending their crown, the Knights won their 19th title highlighted by a 12-game sweep.
“It was a tough series, but we were able to pull it off in the end,” said Lt. Coach Bonnie Tan, whose Knights won the Latron in the 1998 and 1999 seasons, replicating the back-to-back crowns.
Mapuya, trailing by almost double digits throughout, was a picture of frustration on both ends, with their main weapon from the outside abandoning the Cardinals in the most important match of the season.
The Cardinals, from the most accurate squad and three-point range in the circle, fell into the 21-point hole early in the third and Arvin Gumboa and Paolo Hernandez came in five after two triplets.
The Abando Knights were held steady by scoring six of the last seven points of the Cardinals’ roaring return.
When Confetti rained on the floor to the delight of the Latron faithful, the Cardinals looked the other way, frustrated, their luck and the runner-up trophy went with him.
But the Cardinals, Hernandez, Gumboa, Brian Lacap, Adrian Nkum and Warren Bonifacio are also hoping to play again next season, they can give a tough challenge once again. INQ
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