The Zark’s-Lyceum Jawbreakers refused to lose, and hacked out an 82-77 triumph over the Centro Escolar University Scorpions, Thursday afternoon at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig, to complete the Final Four picture in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup.
MJ Ayaay willed the Jawbreakers back in the game, as they clawed their way back from a 72-61 deficit in the last 7:27, and uncorked a stunning 21-5 finishing kick to steal the game away from the Scorpions.
“I just reminded them to just enjoy the game and that gave them more freedom to play,” said coach Topex Robinson, as the sixth-seeded Zark’s-Lyceum brace for second-seeded Marinerong Pilipino Skippers in the best-of-three semifinals that begins on Tuesday.
Ayaay was all over the floor with his 15 points, four rebounds, five steals, and four blocks, to make up for the absence of CJ Perez, who fouled out with 4:54 left in the game.
Jayvee Marcelino topscored for his side with 17 points, while twin brother Jaycee Marcelino contributed 10 markers, seven assists, and three boards. Cameroonian slotman Mike Nzeusseu tallied a double-double of 12 points and 16 rebounds, alongside his four swats.
It was an awe-inspiring stand from a Jawbreakers side, who looked dead in the water after the Scorpions raced to a 30-12 advantage in the first quarter, and struggled to churn out a rally throughout the game.
But in the end, it was Zark’s-Lyceum’s defense that did the trick, stifling CEU in the clutch to snatch the victory and overcome the twice-to-beat disadvantage in the quarterfinals.
Rod Ebondo unfurled 22 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Scorpions, while Art Aquino got 16 markers and 11 boards in the exit.
CEU, the runners-up in last season’s Foundation Cup, will miss the semifinals for the first time since the 2014 Foundation Cup.
Zark’s-Lyceum 82 — Jv. Marcelino 17, Ayaay 15, Nzeusseu 12, Jc. Marcelino 10, Perez 8, Tansingco 6, Caduyac 5, Serrano 4, Yong 3, Pretta 2, Cinco 0, Ibañez 0.
CEU 77 — Ebondo 22, Aquino 16, Wamar 11, Guinitaran 10, Cruz 6, Fuentes 4, Caballero 3, Manlangit 3, Arim 2, Chan 0, Galinato 0, Intic 0, Veron 0.
Quarterscores: 15-30, 37-45, 56-65, 82-77.