Hard work, determination and the solid support from its corporate backer propelled Letran College to claim its third consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament title.
San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua said they didn’t give up on the Knights even at the height of the pandemic knowing that they are really sustain their dynasty.
Chua, who played high school basketball at Letran before transferring to University of Santo Tomas for college, stands as the school’s special assistant to the Rector for sports development.
Despite his hectic schedule in the Philippine Basketball Association, he remains active in Letran’s basketball program and was even at courtside when the Knights bagged the Season 98 title following a Game 3 conquest of College of Saint Benilde in their best-of-three finals showdown.
“We didn’t force them to stay,” Chua, the architect of SMC teams’ dominance in the PBA.
“We just continued our support to them even during the pandemic and we showed that we are ready to help them in any way that we can.”
“Some of them might give up, but we won’t give up on them.”
With Chua and SMC behind them, the Knights played an inspired basketball.
After winning a pair of titles in Seasons 97 and 98, the Knights lost star forward Rhenz Abando, who decided to pack his bags for Korea.
But it hardly mattered as Letran was in full control, finishing the eliminations at No. 2 before making short work of Lyceum of the Philippines University in the quarterfinals to book a finals duel with Saint Benilde — a team that has yet to win the NCAA crown in 22 years.
The Knights flexed their muscles early, booking an 81-75 victory before the Blazers retaliated with a 76-71 decision.
In Game 3, Letran’s heart of a champion was on full display as it frustrated Saint Benilde at the defensive end, leading to a title-clinching 81-67 triumph.
For winning the title, SMC president Ramon Ang is looking at giving the Knights an incentive trip to Japan.
“I won’t be able to do this without the support of Boss RSA (Ang). He was the one who told me to support Letran and you know that the team he supports always wins,” Chua said while toning down what the future holds for the Knights.
“We have to hold a meeting first before we can plan anything.”