MANILA – Kobe Monje scored 13 points as Colegio de San Juan de Letran clobbered Arellano University, 67-58, in the NCAA Season 99 men's basketball tournament at the Filoil EcoOil Arena in San Juan City on Tuesday.
Kobe also had three rebounds, four assists, and one steal for the fallen three-time champion Knights, who notched their only second win in 16 games.
“I’m proud of Kobe since I started at Letran, he's my player in Team B,” said Letran coach Rensy Bajar, who lost Kurt Reyson, Nicko Fajardo and Andrei Guarino to injuries.
“Kung ano approach ko sa kanya nung 2019, andun pa din. Siya yung nasa level na pwede maging superstar sa liga na ito (My approach to him in 2019 is still there. He is at the level that can be a superstar in this league)," he added.
Monje's ready to play a bigger role in the team.
“Nung una hindi ko pa mailabas ganun na role. Dati kasi role player lang ako, naglalaro lang ako five minutes, pinakamatagal 15 minutes (At first, I couldn't pull off such a role. Before, I was just a role player, I only played for five minutes, the longest was 15 minutes)," the 6-foot-4 forward said.
Josua Abastillas and Lars Sunga finished with nine points each for the Chiefs, who absorbed their 13th loss against two wins.
Meanwhile, leader Mapua University battles the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The other game pit College of Saint Benilde against San Beda University at 3:30 p.m.
In the second game, Jose Rizal University unleashed a killer fourth quarter run as it turned back Emilio Aguinaldo College, 77-64, and closed in on a Final Four spot in NCAA Season 99.
Deadlocked at 63 in the final seven minutes, the Bombers dropped the defensive anvil on the Generals while executing their plays to near-perfection in a decisive 14-1 blitz that sealed the former their 10th victory against six defeats, which was good for No. 4.
Mapua leads the way with a 12-3 record while Lyceum of the Philippines U and College of St. Benilde at Nos. 2 and 3 with an 11-4 and 10-5 card, respectively.
The Generals faltered to 8-8 and on the brink of elimination.
“I told the players, let’s just do the best dun sa mga bagay na controlado naming (on those things we can control), which are No. 1 defense, which is our brand of game, and pangalawa (secondly) ball movement,” said JRU coach Louie Gonzales, whose team ended up with 22 assists.
The win was also a fitting birthday gift to celebrants Marwin Dionisio and Jonathan Medina, who turned 24 on Monday and 22 on Tuesday, respectively.
Interestingly, it was the duo who paced the Bombers on this one and fired 16 and 11 points.
“I told the team to play for their families,” Gonzales said. (PNA)