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Knights squander double-digit lead in loss to Cardinals

MANILA, Philippines – The Letran Knights blew an 11-point lead and succumbed to the Mapua Cardinals, 69-66, in their NCAA Season 99 duel Saturday afternoon at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.

Letran led by a single point in the final minute of the game.

However, Clint Escamis gave Mapua the lead, 65-64, off a jumper with 56 ticks left.

Deo Cuajao took the lead back for the Knights with a layup with 52 seconds remaining, but Jopet Soriano scored with a little over 30 seconds left as Mapua regained the upper hand, 67-66.

Ira Bataller and Kint Ariar missed crucial layups that would have pushed Letran ahead late in the game.

A pair of Escamis freebies settled the score as Cuajao missed the tying 3-pointers.

Letran held an 11-point lead, 46-35, after a pair of free throws by Paolo Javilionar with 5:57 left in the third quarter.

The Cardinals then retaliated with seven straight points to cut the lead to four, 46-42.

A pair of freebies by Kurt Reyson stopped the bleeding for Letran, but Escamis’ last-second jumper to end the third cut the lead to two, 50-52, heading into the final frame.

Escamis led Mapua with 21 markers, while Reyson had 17 points for Letran.

Mapua holds a 9-2 slate for solo first.

Letran dropped to the bottom with a 1-10 record.