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Thread: Knights in Season 89

  1. #11
    And still another:

    Almazan’s transformation, Nambatac’s play key for Letran
    By Mark Giongco
    10:38 pm | Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

    MANILA, Philippines — Caloy Garcia, Letran’s new head coach, knows the Knights would need additional offensive production aside from the obvious in Mark Cruz, Kevin Racal and explosive rookie Rey Nambatac to go deep in the 89th NCAA Season.

    And being known as a defensive player throughout his career, Raymond Almazan may be the most unlikeliest source of offense but his size, length and experience seemed to be just what Garcia is looking for.
    “When I talked to him even before we started practicing, I told him that he’s going to get touches now in the post because I would need him to score,” Garcia recalled.

    “Dati he’s just a defensive player but I told him if he wants to make it to the pros he also has to show he has offensive skills. That’s the challenge I’m giving him.”
    Almazan has a great upside with his lengthy frame at six-foot-seven and his efforts to work on his offensive game and transform himself as a two-way player have been paying off for Letran, which sets up an interesting opening day clash with San Sebastian on Saturday, has shown in the Knights stint in the Filoil tournament.

    During the preseason, Letran drew plays for Almazan on the low block and at times, Almazan, who is in his last playing year, was able to show off a couple of his low-post arsenals — the results of his hard work in practice.

    “He only started practicing with us I think mid-May because he was focusing on the D-League, so once finished in the D-League, mas importante sa amin yung team offense namin rather than our individual skills but the nice thing about him is he comes earlier in workouts and does individual post drills,” Garcia told

    Garcia shows great confidence in his graduating player and it was evident during Letran’s game against De La Salle in the Filoil where Garcia ran post-up plays for Almazan over and over.

    Almazan, who gamely embraces his new niche as the team’s leader, had trouble against the Green Archers’ big men Norbert Torres and Arnold Van Opstal — finishing with just two points on an embarrassing one-of-eight shooting from the field — considering all of his shots came on the low block and most didn’t even hit the rim.

    “Actually he’s still adjusting because he’s more of an offensive rebounder where his scoring mostly comes from putbacks, tip ins, siguro nung binigyan ko siya ng pressure sa post na kailangan makuha yung bola sa post and make the right decisions I think he has been able to adjust.”

    And that’s just part of the growing pains Almazan and Garcia have to live with for Letran to be successful and possibly repeat last year’s run where the team just fell a game short of winning it all.

    Almazan’s role will be crucial for his team, along with fellow veterans Cruz and Racal as the Knights look to have a smooth transition with a winning season right away after the departure of long-time mentor Louie Alas, who guided the Knights to three championships under his watch.

    “The team is adapting to the system very well. We’ve been practicing well for the last three months,” said Garcia. “Nice thing about coach Louie was he was able to leave me with a good defensive team. Maganda yung mga pinakita niya sa mga bata and we might carry over what coach Louie left.”

    “The thing here lang is the players just need confidence in taking shots kasi before they had a different system and sa system na pinapasok namin ngayon kailangan they’re confident enough to take wide open shots kasi yun ang rules ko,” Garcia added.

    Garcia’s well aware that if Almazan develops into a dominant force inside, it will open up the team’s shooters like Cruz and Nambatac as well as the driving lane for Racal, who is most effective when attacking the basket.

    Alas’ unexpected exit after last season’s defeat to rival San Beda in the NCAA Finals also influenced his son Kevin, the team’s main man for the past couple of years, to forego his final year of eligibility.
    Garcia has high expectations for his starting center but the pressure is also on Nambatac, whom Garcia said is up to fill in the void left by Alas.

    “He’s a rookie but he plays more like a veteran in the Filoil,” Garcia said of his promising six-foot guard.
    Nambatac’s stellar preseason showing even got the attention of one of college’s finest stars in Kiefer Ravena when the two matched up late April in the Filoil where Ateneo fashioned out a hard-fought 88-81 win.

    “We saw what Rey Nambatac is capable of,” praised Ravena after the former Letran Squire standout broke down the Eagles defense with his ability to get to the rim en route to 19 points on 10-of-11 shooting at the line.

    Garcia doesn’t think his team will be this year’s sleeper, perhaps because deep down he believes that with the pieces that he has in Almazan, Cruz, Nambatac and Racal, Letran is so much more than that.
    “Anything can happen this season.”
    Last edited by bugleboy; 06-21-2013 at 08:08 AM.

  2. #12
    Kelan po graduation ni Dysam at Belorio?
    I-shoot mo, i-shoot mo, i- shoot mo pa ang ball. ang sarap mag Basketball - Viva Hot Babes

  3. #13
    I think this is the last year for both Dysam and Belorio. Why do you ask?

  4. #14
    Mabuti na lang naabutan ko ang last half ng larong ito!

    Raymond Almazan towers as Letran repulses San Sebastian on NCAA opening day
    Karl Decena, InterAKTV · Saturday, June 22, 2013 · 8:06 pm

    Raymond Almazan stood tallest to lead the Letran Knights to a 74-69 victory over the San Sebastian Stags Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

    The 6-foot-8 center posted dominant numbers of 15 points, 20 rebounds, and five blocks to help the Knights win their opening assignment. More importantly, Almazan shook off cramps to score a crucial three-point play with 1:46 remaining to give his team enough cushion to preserve the victory.

    Taking advantage of San Sebastian’s rookie-laden lineup, Letran opened up a double-digit lead in the third quarter.

    The Knights were still up by 11 points, 61-50, with eight minutes left in the game, before the Stags went on a furious 11-0 run behind John Ortuoste to tie the game with six minutes left.

    Letran refused to be rattled, however, scoring six straight points despite Almazan leaving the game because of cramps.

    San Sebastian refused to die, however, putting together a 5-0 run to get back within striking distance, 67-66.

    But Almazan re-entered the ballgame and promptly scored a three-point play on an offensive rebound to give his team a 70-66 lead. He split his free throws with 42 seconds left pushed the Letran lead to five points. Freshman Rey Nambatac made three of four shots from the line to seal the victory for the Knights, giving new coach Caloy Garcia a victory in his debut after taking over for Louie Alas.

    Nambatac, who replaced former Letran star Kevin Alas in the Knights’ starting lineup, finished with 13 points while point guard Mark Cruz added 12.


    Personal notes: Finally, we saw what Raymond Almazan is really capable of -- not only blocking shots and rebounding but scoring as well. This version of him is definitely a massive improvement over the Almazan we saw in the preseason games. I nearly fell out of my chair because of that surprise three-pointer! We also saw a razor-sharp version of Mark Cruz, issuing bullet passes and scoring dagger treys. Ditto for Rey Nambatac, who played like seniors ball is second nature to him, and Ford Ruaya, who played like a man possessed all throughout. Also included in the special mention category are McJour Luib, Jamil Gabawan, Rey Publico, and of course, the heroic Kevin Racal.

    Great win, boys! Arriba!

    But I think the Stags ought to be commended as well. Down by 11 in the last quarter, they bravely fought back and almost stole this game from us. If not for ill-advised treys and turnovers by these Stags, we would have been in deep trouble for sure. Great showing by Ortuoste. Baste surely got a gem of a point guard in this guy.

    Only Gabawan's short stab and Almazan's and Nambatac's free throws saved us from disaster here. Still, great win!
    Last edited by bugleboy; 06-22-2013 at 09:04 PM.

  5. #15
    I saw 4 quarters of the "replay" highlights at the AKTV website. Medyo blurry and pixelized pero at least naka-panood kahit papa-ano.

    Based on bugleboy's post, it seems that Almazan is our main man. I shudder to think what will happen if he has an off-game or not in rhythm.

    Congrats to Caloy G and his coaching staff for their buena mano win in the NCAA as Knights.

    Last edited by knightrider; 06-22-2013 at 10:11 PM.

  6. #16
    Alley-oop basket rescues Lions

    By Cedelf P. Tupas

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    12:22 am | Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

    SAN BEDA coach Boyet Fernandez ran the length of the court after the final buzzer like he was celebrating a championship.

    Judging at the way the defending champion Lions won on opening day, the celebration was fitting and justified.

    Art dela Cruz banked in a backdoor alley-oop play with 3.4 seconds remaining as San Beda survived St. Benilde, 71-70, last night to kickstart its quest for a fourth straight title before a roaring crowd at Mall of Asia Arena.

    The Blazers gave the Lions all that they could handle in a wild finish with Pons Saavedra knocking in what many thought was the deciding three-pointer with 4.7 seconds left before Fernandez drew up the simple inbound play that set the stage for Dela Cruz’s heroics.

    STARS WILL SHINE Performers of host College of St. Benilde hold up mini-lamps to spotlight the theme “Stars will Shine” and signal the start of the men’s basketball tournament of the NCAA’s Season 89 on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena. AUGUST DELA CRUZ

    Later, Letran—tipped as one of the biggest threats to San Beda’s throne—leaned on the stellar play of Raymond Almazan on both ends as the Knights trounced the San Sebastian Stags, 74-69.

    Almazan tallied 15 points, grabbed 20 boards and swatted away five shots for the Knights, who also unveiled a gem of a rookie in Rey Nambatac, whose 13-point output included three free throws down the stretch.

    It wasn’t a vintage dominant performance by the Lions whose past seasons had been marked by opening-day routs.

    “It was a lucky game for us because we were up by 15, we missed our free throws, we committed turnovers and we missed coverage, and we looked like we didn’t care in the fourth quarter,” said Fernandez.

    The scores:

    First Game

    SAN BEDA 71—Dela Cruz 16, Adeogun 11, Dela Rosa 10, Amer 9, Koga 8, D. Semerad 4, Mendoza 4, Abarcar 3, Pascual 2, A. Semerad 2, Ludovice 2.

    ST. BENILDE 70—Romero 19, Taha 15, Ongteco 10, Saavedra 10, Bartolo 9, Argamino 3, Sinco 2, Carlos 0, Grey 0, Garcia 0, Jonson 0.

    Quarters: 22-12, 38-28, 57-48, 71-70

    Second Game

    LETRAN 74—Almazan 15, Nambatac 13, Cruz 12, Ruaya 11, Racal 7, Luib 6, Gabawan 6, Castro 2, Publico 2, Dysam 0.

    SAN SEBASTIAN 69—Guinto 17, Ortuoste 16, Dela Cruz 9, Perez 9, Rebollos 7, De Vera 6, Gusi 3, Tano 2, Magno 0.

    Quarters: 17-17, 36-35, 58-50, 74-69

  7. #17

  8. #18
    Coach Louie has kind words for the Knights and Coach Caloy:

    Former mentor Alas says Letran Knights good enough to make run at NCAA title
    By Gerry Ramos
    June 23, 2013, 07:00 pm

    LOUIE Alas wasn’t at all surprised to see his former team Letran pull off a gut-wrenching 74-69 win against a hard-fighting San Sebastian squad during Saturday’s opener of Season 89 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

    Afterall, he knew all along how good these Knights are when he decided to leave the team last December and pass the coaching baton to Caloy Garcia.

    “Maganda ang lineup (ng Letran). May materyales yan,” he said of the team he handled for more than a decade and led to three NCAA championships and a runner-up finish in his final season in 2012.

    Although the Knights lost top gunner Kevin Alas, shooting guard Carlo Lituania, and key big men Jam Cortez, Joel Gabriel,and JunJun Alas, the team kept some key pieces in the core that came a win short of upending three-time reigning champion San Beda Red Lions in last year’s Finals.

    Big man Raymond Almazan, whose game is getting better by the day, now serves as the pillar of Letran’s bid to recapture the crown it last won in 2005 yet. Alas even referred to the lanky 6-foot-7 Almazan as the best center in the league today especially after an impressive showing against the Stags spiked by 15 points, 20 rebounds, and five block shots.

    Then there’s deadly point guard Mark Cruz, who the former Knights mentor likened to San Beda’s Baser Amer, Kevin Racal, returnee Franz Dysam, veteran recruit Ford Ruaya, and Jonathan Belorio, who didn’t even suit up for the Knights’ game against the Stags.

    But definitely the player to watch in Letran’s roster this season is former juniors MVP Rey Nambatac, who already showed he can play with the big boys by pouring in 13 points in his varsity debut.

    Alas even considered the decision of his son Kevin to forego the final year of his playing eligibility with the Knights as a blessing in disguise.

    “At least mabibigyan ng playing time `yung ibang players especially `yung mga rookies. I think Nambatac is a good replacement for Kevs,” said Alas, who also serves as one of Luigi Trillo’s deputies with PBA Commissioner’s Cup champion Alaska.

    “Basically, it’s a good mix,” he added. “Plus you have a very good and experienced coach in Caloy.”

    Although he’d rather not directly anoint the Knights as favorites for the title, Alas said it would be safe to say that Letran is a good championship contender.

    So good in fact, that he claims it would be a letdown if the team fails to make the Final Four.

    “Ako personally, I would be disappointed if they (Knights) will not enter the Final Four,” said the soft-spoken, multi-titled coach.

  9. #19
    Deus- Patria -Letran! All Dugong Arriba know what that means.

    Kevin did forego his fifth year with the Knights to serve Patria in the Gilas team. As part of the reserve pool, he might even make it to the final cut of the team for the August games.

    Now that Coach Alas is with the Alaska team in the PBA, I hope he can immerse the Alaska management in the concept of "Patria" first.

    I find it a lame excuse not to allow Sonny Thoss or Calvin Abueva to join the Gilas team, in the guise of those players undergoing alleged surgery. Tell that to the marines. This is not the first time this happened. Kudos to the other teams who loaned their players for the great August endeavor. As for Alaska's ka-swapangan, I can only say that I've switched milk for I will not patronize companies who put selfish interest over that of the country's.

  10. #20
    Whew! Close win again by the Knights. Props to the Generals for the good fight!

    Letran grabs solo lead after win over Generals
    By Karlo Sacamos
    June 29, 2013, 08:35 pm

    LETRAN delivered when it mattered anew to score a 79-74 triumph over Emilio Aguinaldo College and grab the solo lead in the NCAA men’s basketball competition at The Arena in San Juan on Saturday.

    Mark Cruz, Rey Nambatac, and Raymond Almazan came through for the Knights, who notched a second successive victory following their opening-day win over San Sebastian.

    Although Cruz and Almazan led the Knights in scoring, it was the unflappable rookie Nambatac who buried two late, crucial free throws that kept the reeling Generals at bay and secured for the Knights the win.

    “Parang hindi siya rookie maglaro. It’s easier to handle a player like that with full of confidence,” Knights coach Caloy Garcia said of Nambatac, the former NCAA Juniors’ MVP, who finished with 13 points.

    Cruz fired 18, while Almazan tallied a second-straight double-double of 15 points and 17 boards that went with three blocks as he continued his transformation to a better-rounded player.

    The slotman from Bataan punctuated his performance with a slam dunk to end the game.

    Ford Ruaya also stepped up for the Knights in the absence of starting power forward Jojo Belorio, who remains out with a hand injury.

    “We started the game sluggish at hanggang sa dulo sluggish pa rin. Buti na lang breaks of the game napunta sa amin,” Garcia said. “We already knew EAC’s gonna come out with a different mindset.”

    The Generals, who suffered their second defeat in three days, were aching to recover from a huge 49-69 loss to University of Perpetual Help in their opening game.

    They came out with a renewed vigor against the Knights as they went ahead after the first quarter and threatened late in the game before folding up.

    The scores:

    Letran (79) -- Cruz 18, Almazan 15, Nambatac 13, Ruaya 11, Gabawan 8, Luib 5, Racal 5, Dysam 4, Tambeling 0, Buenaflor 0, Publico 0.

    Emilio Aguinaldo (74) -- Morada 22, Arquero 20, Happi 10, King 7, Jamon 5, Tayongtong 4, Paguia 2, Castro 2, Hiole Manga 2, Munsayac 0.

    Quarterscores: 14-18; 44-37; 63-57; 79-74.

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