MANILA, Philippines—Francis Chua’s faith in Letran never wavered. Not even a little bit.
Chua, who serves as Letran’s special assistant to the principal for athletic development, said he has no doubt the Knights will beat the College of St. Benilde in the NCAA Season 98 Men’s Basketball Finals.
“When I go to Letran’s practice, I just tell the whole team and Bonnie (Tan) one thing,” said Chua, San Miguel’s athletic director. “Hindi tayo tatalunin n’yan (They won’t defeat us).”
“It doesn’t matter what they do to us, but what about the ball? The ball is something they cannot control. The ball has no brain, you can’t control it,” he added.
The Knights overcame the Blazers in three games and became the first NCAA team to claim a third consecutive crown since the San Beda Red Lions in Season 94 in 2018.
“We planned the game for them and in the first half we got them. I told Coach Bonnie after that, they wouldn’t be able to react,” he said.
Letran knocked out Benilde early after taking a 51-33 lead at the break.
Chua was unable to watch the final live to be with Ginebra and San Miguel in the PBA Commissioners Cup semi-final at PhilSports Arena.
Chua said Louie Sangalang and Brent Paraiso staying calm was also a key factor in Letran’s title win.
“I spoke to Sangalang and Brent. I told them to forget about the stinky troubles. Don’t shoot, play spade with spade, play basketball. They can’t beat us,” he said.
Paraiso scored 16 points while Sangalang had 8 points and 4 rebounds.
But it was King Caralipio who won the MVP award of the final after scoring 20 points and 10 bounces.
Chua is also grateful that the Knights were able to pull through despite the adversities they faced throughout the season, including the absence of main defender Fran Yu in the deciding match due to suspension. .
“Last season, we won, but this is a championship with a lot of interesting things. A lot of people got suspended but I told them it was part of the challenge. It’s part of growth,” said Chua.
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