| Letran Knights|
Colegio de San Juan de Letran
|Seniors' general championships|| NCAA: 7 (1979-80, 1997-98, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2001-02, 2003-04)|
|Juniors' general championships|| NCAA: 7 (1983-84, 1986-87, 1987-88, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2001-02)|
|Team colors||Dark blue, red and white|
|Women's team||Lady Knights|
|Staple cheer||Arriba Letran!|
The Letran Knights are the National Collegiate Athletic Association (Philippines) basketball team of the Colegio de San Juan de Letran.
Their 16 NCAA seniors basketball championships are the most in any NCAA team.
The Knights of Malta is a Benedictine Hospitaller Order whose roots date back to Pope Gregory the Great, himself a Benedictine monk, who requested Abbot Probus of 600 C.E. and the Benedictines to start a hospital in Jerusalem.
The high school team adopted the "Squire" while the elementary team adopted the "Page"
- Table Tennis
- Track and Field
- Football (Juniors only)
- Cheerleading (Letran Cheering Squad)
The Colegio has been an active participant in inter-collegiate sports, winning in the La Liga Catholica (The Catholic League) of the early 1920s.
When Letran joined the NCAA in 1928, the Squires promptly won the Juniors championship on their first season, and later on established the then NCAA record of three consecutive juniors championships. However the Colegio withdrew on 1932 after a dispute on an ineligible player in track and field. Letran later rejoined the league on 1936. Two years later, the Knights, won their first title in 1938 under coach Jacinto Ciria Cruz, and captained by Felicismo Fajardo.
The Knights and the Squires would then go on to several forgettable seasons until the Knights scored a breakthrough in 1950.
The Beginning of the Decade Jinx
The Knights emerged as the top team in 1950 season. Sweeping the first five games, the Knights were assured of a Finals spot (The winner of the first and of the second round were assured of a berth in the Championship round). They then won the next four games, assuring themselves of the automatic championship, for they've won both rounds. Even though the San Beda Red Lions beat them in the last game, the Knights still got the best record in the second round, and the Championship round wasn't held. The 1950 Knights were headed by 1948 Olympian Lauro "The Fox" Mumar and the team was nicknamed "Murder Inc."
The Knights would then win their championships at the beginning of the decade. In 1960 they would beat San Beda and Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers in the Championship round (they would again beat JRC in 1966), and La Salle in the 1970 season. The 1960 Final match would come down to the wire as Knight Basilio Go converted a jumper as time expired.
The 1980 season would change the face of the league forever as the fans of the Knights and of the La Salle Green Archers got involved in a massive brawl inside the Rizal Memorial Coliseum. The NCAA Policy Board banned Letran from the remainder of the season, and suspended the basketball tournament. When Letran was readmiited in 1981, La Salle disagreed and bolted out of the league (they would later join the UAAP starting at the 1986 season). The jinx was said to be broken after this season.
Samboy Lim era
After the troublesome 1980 season, the Knights would later reach the pinnacle of their history as Samboy Lim would lead the Knights to three consecutive championships, starting at 1982.
Coached by Larry Albano, the Knights would do what the 1950 team did, as they emerged with a 9-1 record (the only loss from San Sebastian Stags (or Baste). The Championship round was scrapped, and the Knights were awarded their seventh title. In 1983, they would face Baste in the Finals and they stopped the Stags. The three-peat was capped by their 1984 championship.
After a heartbreaking 1985 season, the Knights, now coached by Eddie Reyes, would face Baste for the 1986 title. The Paul Alvarez-led Stags would take the series to a deciding Game 3. But it was Alvarez himself who would throw the series away at the deciding seconds when he turned over the ball, which led to a Monty Albano conversion to bring the title back to Intramuros. In the 1987 season, the championship game would again go down to the wire as Letran's Francisco Libed converted another last-second shot to beat the Stags in a rematch of the 1986 Finals.
It wasn't until 1992 when Letran would again be champions. Coached by Rudolf Hines (a member of the 1970 champion team) and led by Ronald Peña and Gilbert Castillo, they would again face Baste for the title. The Stags were overwhelmed this time though, as the Knights swept the Stags in two games.
But it was the Baste decade as they would win the next five championships (an NCAA record). In 1998, Baste would try to beat their own record by winning their sixth consecutive title. But it was Kerby Raymundo, Chris Calaguio and Willie Miller (the future PBA MVP), who led Letran back into the promised land. Coached by Louie Alas, Letran leads the series, 1-0, the Stags forced overtime. But Letranite J.P. Pacheco denied the Stags of their 6th consecutive titles as he drained two three-pointers, and assured the Knights of a 2-0 sweep.
The 1999 championship series would literally be a "hopia" filled series, as the JRC Heavy Bombers (whose last title was last won in 1972) would face the Knights. The 1999 Finals was notorious for being violent and chaotic, as Letran supporters would throw hopia (a kind of pastry) and all sorts of debris to the playing court, causing a delay of games. Game 2 was delayed by a half-hour when Letranites rained the playing court with hopia. With Letran leading the series, 1-0, the Heavy Bombers would not recover from the hopia incident as the Knights blew out them out, The 1999 Knights was mentored by now Coca Cola Tigers coach Binky Favis.
The New Millennium
The 2003 series would again feature Baste and Letran. Host San Sebastian, who have won the last two championships, are aiming for another three-peat. The Knights, coached by Louie Alas and led by Ronjay Enrile were aiming to tie Ateneo's record of 14 titles. The series reached a deciding Game 3. In the final minutes, Boyet Bautista, Aaron Aban and Jonathan Piñera ignited an 8-0 run, turning a 56-58 deficit to a 64-58 title-clinching victory. Ronjay Enrile was voted as NCAA Finals MVP.
As a result of the championship, the Colegio joined the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) in 2003 under the banner of Toyota Otis. The Knights captured the third place trophy in the Unity Cup after beating defending champions Hapee Toothpaste.
The 2004 season would be an extremely difficult endeavor for the Knights. Emerging at the end of the elimination round with a 9-5 standing, they face the PCU Dolphins (10-4) in the Final Four tournament with a twice to win disadvantage. On the first game, with Letran down by two points in the final moments, Jonathan Aldave converted a three-point shot to force a winner-take all rubber match. But on the deciding game, Enrile missed both of his free throws in overtime as the Dolphins escaped with the victory. This led to disappointment on the Letran camp, while the Dolphins won their first NCAA title against the season host UPHSD Altas.
Their stint the PBL was more disappointment as they narrowly missed out on a playoffs stint via tiebreakers.
With Letran hosting the 2005 season, Letran and PCU were considered as shoo-ins for the Finals by pundits. The Knights defeated the Dolphins in overtime in the first round, and they escaped in regulation in the second round. With the Knights and Dolphins finishing 1-2 at the end of the eliminations, they disposed their semi-final opponents to setup one of the most anticipated Finals in recent history. The Dolphins, who have never beaten the Knights in 2005, shocked Letran as they emerged as winners in Game 1. However, Letran blew out PCU on Game 2. The deciding Game 3 was decided by a Letran run in the fourth quarter as Bautista brought home Finals MVP honors. Louie Alas won his third NCAA title and was awarded with Coach of the Year honors.
On the PBL Heroes Cup that followed, Toyota Otis-Letran drafted former UTEP player Joe Devance. But the Knights won't make it to the playoffs, as they finished last in their division.
On the next PBL conference, the Unity Cup, the Toyota-Otis team, now known as the Sparks, finished tied for first at the end of the classification round. Seeded first due to tiebreakers, they swept defending champions Rain or Shine ElastoPaints in their best of five series, setting up a best of five Finals against the Harbour Centre Portmasters. With Aban having a wrist injury in Games 4 and 5, the Portmasters defeated the Sparks in 5 games. Devance was named as the most valuable player of the PBL Unity Cup.
On the 2006 NCAA season, the Knights had a 5-0 start but were beaten by San Beda in the first round finale, the Knights won several more games, but with successive losses to Final Four finalists Mapua, PCU and San Beda on their last 3 elimination round games, the were forced to face PCU in a playoff to determine which team gets the second seed and twice to beat advantage. The Knights lost the game, and were blownout in their Final Four game as they bowed out of the Finals, finishing second runner-up. The Squires were unluckier - they finished winless in the season. Knight Boyet Bautista won the Most Improved Player Award, while Julius Wong of the Squires was selected as one of the Mythical 5.
Players of note
- Boyet Bautista
- Bibiano Quano (1936 Olympian)
- Lauro Mumar (1948 Olympian)
- Felicisimo Fajardo (1948 Olympian)
- Basilio Go
- Clemente Bargas
- Florentino Bautista (1952 Olympian)
- Freddie Webb (1972 Olympian)
- Samboy Lim (Mythical 5, 1990 Asian Games, Member of the 25 Greatest Players of the PBA)
- Romy Ang
- Ronald Peña
- Chris Calaguio
- Willie Miller (Philippine Basketball Association Most Valuable Player)
- Kerby Raymundo
- Ronjay Enrile
- Dave Regullano
- Gabriel Fajardo
- Rudy Hines
- Rino Salazar
- Mark Andaya
- Antero "Terry" Saldaña
- Itoy Esguerra
- Molet Pineda
- Aaron Aban
- Gido Babilonia (1986 Letran HS basketball varsity member)
- Ed Ducut
- Tim Coloso
- Alfrancis Chua (former Sta.Lucia Realtors coach and former Letran HS basketball varsity)
- Chris Cantonjos (former UAAP MVP and former Letran HS varsity)
- Jing Ruiz
- Dong Libed
- Art Ayson
- Justiniano Pinat
- Elmer Latonio
- Allan Salangsang
- Erwin Velez
- John Paul Prior
- Billy Moody
- JP Pacheco
- Orlan Tama
- Jason Misolas
- Mark Kong
- Ismael Junio (former NCAA Rookie of the Year)
- Harold Sta.Cruz
- Herminio Astorga
- Michael Garcia (former PBA and MBA player)
- Mike Mustre
- Ed Picson (veteran play-by-play announcer)
- Francis Arabit
- OJ Cua (former NCAA Jrs. MVP)
- JC Intal (former Letran Squires varsity)
- Jay-R Reyes (former NCAA Jrs. MVP)
- PJ Walsham
- Alvin Magpantay (former Letran HS varsity)
The Colegio organized its own soccer team by 1911, known as the Letran Athletic Association. The team, nicknamed as "The Bohemians," won the national championship up to 1917. Then, it joined the La Liga Catholica where it competed against Catholic schools. The Letran Booters would then join the NCAA in 1932.
The Letran Booters won several titles in the NCAA, most notably in 1980s, when they beat a fabled Mapua team with Taiwanese and foreign-bred players. However, due to financial restraints, the Colegio discontinued the seniors soccer team in 2003.
- Seniors: 1983-1984, 1985-1986, 1986-1987, 1988-1989, 1997-1998, 2003, 2005
- Juniors: 1965-1966, 1987-1988, 1988-1989, 2001-2002
Letran was NCAA champion during the following seasons:
- Seniors: 1978-1979, 1979-1980, 1981-1982, 1985-1986
- Juniors: 1983-1984, 1987-1988, 1999-2000, 2000-2001, 2001-2002
- Seniors: 1978-1979, 1979-1980
- Seniors: 1986-1987
- Juniors: 1983-1984, 1985-1986
- Table Tennis
- Seniors: 1985-1986, 1989-1990, 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2002-2003, 2003-2004
- Juniors: 1986-1987, 1987-1988, 1988-1989, 1989-1990, 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000, 2000-2001, 2001-2002
- Seniors: 1976-1976, 1984-1985, 1985-1986, 1999-2000, 2000-2001, 2001-2002
- Juniors: 1982-1983, 1998-1999, 1999-2000, 2001-2002
- Track & Field
- Seniors: 1978-1979, 1989-1990, 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
- Juniors: 1984-1985, 1986-1987, 2001-2001, 2001-2002
- Men: 1981-1982, 1982-1983, 1983-1984, 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993, 1993-1994, 1998-1999, 1999-2000, 2000-2001
- Women: 1977-1978, 1978-1979, 1979-1980, 1980-1981, 1997-1998, 1998-1999
- Juniors: 1985-1986, 2001-2002
- General Championships:
- Seniors: 1979, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
- Juniors: 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
|National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 83|
|Letran||Benilde/LSGH||JRU||Mapúa||San Beda||San Sebastian||UPHD|
|Knights||Blazers||Heavy Bombers||Cardinals||Red Lions||Stags||Altas|
|Squires||Greenies||Light Bombers||Red Cubs||Staglets||Altalettes|
|Lady Knights||Lady Blazers||Lady Stags||Lady Altas|
|The PCU Dolphins are suspended for the 2007-08 season.|