Hoping to end a 10-year title drought, the Letran Knights jumped the gun on the San Beda Red Lions, taking game one of their best of three Finals series, 94-90, on Friday, October 23.
Kevin Racal led the scoring for the Knights with 28 points, including a crucial follow-up of his own miss underneath the basket with a little over 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter that gave the Knights some distance against the Red Lions. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists.
Racal was ably supported by Mark Cruz and Rey Nambatac whose three-point bombs kept the Knights in the game as the Red Lions put on the pressure with their own treys.
The Knights played inspired basketball as their No. 1 fan, Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, watched from the bench.
|NCAA 91 FINALS|
The game, the fourth meeting of the season between the rivals, was played with an intensity that spilled over to a capacity crowd of 12,825 people inside the Mall of Asia Arena (MOA) in Pasay City.
The Knights won against the Red Lions in their first round meeting, 93-80. The Red Lions fought back by winning their second round clash, 77-73, and in a battle for the top spot going into the semi-finals, 83-78.
Letran, which last won the championship in 2005, is hoping to bring home the championship when it meets San Beda at 4 p.m. for game two at MOA on Tuesday, Oct. 27.
The Red Lions are gunning for a sixth consecutive championship.