The Letran Knights proved that their first round win in the opening day of the 88th season of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) against San Sebastian was no fluke by sweeping their season series against the Stags with a convincing 82-67 win at the San Juan Arena on Sept. 15.
In a tightly contested game that saw 20 lead changes and eight deadlocks, Letran broke away in the final period by scoring 23 huge points against San Sebastian's 10.
Kevin Alas erupted in the early going as he scored 17 of his 23 points in the first half but was forced to sit down most of the third quarter after picking up his fourth foul in the 6:28 mark with the Stags leading 43-42.
It was a test of character for the 16-time champions to play without their leading scorer and the question in everyone’s mind was, "Who will step up and fill the shoes of Kevin?" The answer came very quickly as his co-captain Jam Cortes scored on the next two possessions of the Knights with Kevin Racal, Mark Cruz, and Raymond Almazan following suit with their own baskets to keep the Muralla-based squad's head above water after three quarters, 59-57.
In the final canto, the Knights came out charging with a 20-4 salvo in the first six minutes that gave them a commanding 14-point lead, 77-63. Kevin Racal stepped up in the absence of Kevin Alas in the third scoring 18 points and was named Best Player of the game along with Alas. Cruz chipped in 14 markers while Cortes had another double double with 10 points and 12 boards.
The presence of the "Prodigal Knight" Raymond Almazan was felt inside the paint as he swatted three shots and grabbed 12 rebounds. The 'double-double' performance of PBA-bound Calvin Abueva (27pts., 18rebs.) and leading MVP candidate Ian Sangalang (15pts., 14rebs.) was not enough to stop the rampaging Letran squad who now sits in solo fourth place with a 9-6 slate.