Even with the odds stacked against them, Renzo Navarro and the short-handed Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates dug deep, surviving a grueling overtime tilt against the College of Saint Benilde Blazers, 73-66, Wednesday afternoon in San Juan City.
With the win, the Pirates advance to the quarterfinals of the 2018 SMART City Hoops Under-25 Summer Classic. They will face the loser of the game between the FEU Tamaraws and the UP Fighting Maroons. The FEU-UP tilt takes place on Thursday, May 10.
Lyceum was able to pick up monster games from incoming rookie Liam Barbero and Yancy Remulla. Barbero had 16 points and 11 rebounds while Remulla added 14 markers and 19 boards.
But it was Renzo Navarro who steered the wheel, tallying 25 points, 11 assists, and four steals.
“Sabi nga sa amin ni coach na kailangan namin maipanalo ito para makapasok sa next round. Kahit seven lang kami, na-motivate kami dahil dun,” said Navarro. “Yung mga ganung pressure, yung mga do-or-die na laro, dun na-tetest yung character namin. Nag-usap kami at nagka-isa kami.”
His leadership proved pivotal in extra time. Clinging to just a 67-65 lead with 1:08 left, the former Golden Stag connected on a stop-and-pop jumper to give Lyceum a four-point cushion.
Benilde’s Mark Miranda split his free throws afterwards to give Benilde a chance but Navarro was able to find Remulla on the corner for a wide-open triple to put the Blazers away for good.
“Tiwala naman kami sa conditioning namin. Nung nag-overtime nga, nagkabiruan pa na extra conditioning ito. Sa amin, nag-enjoy lang kami kaya muka kaming hindi napapagod kanina,” added Navarro.
The Blazers, who ended their campaign with a 0-5 record, were led by Prince Carlos with 16 markers.
LPU 73 – Navarro 25, Barbero 16, Remulla 14, Salo 7, Japson 6, Mahinay 5, Valencia 0.
CSB 66 – Carlos 16, Pagulayan 10, Flores 8, Pangalanan 7, Pili 7, Nayve 5, Miranda 4, Wilson 3, Velasco 2, Barnes 2, Belgica 2, San Juan 0.