The University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas needed to go to another level to defeat the upstart Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates.
The duo of Bright Akhuetie and Gab Dagangon helped elevate the Altas in the fourth period in a 71-68 grind out win against the Pirates Friday afternoon to gain second position in the NCAA Season 92 Seniors Basketball Tournament.
“Parang championship game! Talagang lahat gustong manalo,” an exasperated Altas head coach Jimwell Gican said about the game.
Gab Dagangon paced the Altas in the first three quarters of the game, scoring 15 of his 16 points during the frame, while adding 12 boards and a couple of blocks to his statline. Cameroonian big man Bright Akhuetie then lifted the Las Pinas-based squad on his back in the final frame scoring 10 of his 13 points to go along with 13 rebounds.
After going down by as much as 10 points, 35-25, late in the second quarter, the Altas were able to survive without Akhuetie, who already had three personal fouls during halftime. A Dagangon triple sparked a 10-2 rally capped by an and-one play by the gunslinger himself to momentarily give the Altas a 48-47 lead.
However, Harry Nzeusseu, who has been on a tear during Lyceum’s three-game winning streak, scored four straight points, including a highlight reel putback dunk, to help regain the lead for the Pirates to close-out the quarter.
Nzeusseu was “limited” to 18 points and 11 rebounds, far from the 20-20 numbers he had been posting.
“Yun yung number one sa gameplan namin, ma-depensahan si Nzeusseu and si Wilson Baltazar,” Gican shared. “Na-contain naman namin sila kahit papaaano.”
Locking down on defense, the Altas held the Pirates scoreless in the first 6 minutes and 3 seconds of the final frame en route to a 62-55 lead. Needing a bucket, Nzeusseu drove past Akhuetie for a thunderous one-handed jam to the delight of the raucous Lyceum crowd in attendance.
However, the dunk also awoke a sleeping giant. Akhuetie scored Perpetual’s next eight points capped by an and-one play with 46.1 ticks remaining that gave Perpetual a 70-63 lead.
“Not at all. It’s basketball. It was a dunk by not a dunk on because I wasn’t there. He blew passed me,” Akhuetie shared about that moment. “I just had to came out hard because it’s the fourth quarter that matters in basketball.”
“Go hard or go home.”
Not wanting to just hand over the win, Alban easily drove by the Perpetual defenders for a quick lay-up followed by top of the arc three by Shaq Alanes to cut the lead to just two, 68-70, with 10.5 seconds remaining. Gab Dagangon then split his charities with 5.9 seconds left that gave the Pirates a shot to tie the game.
With no timeouts remaining, Alanes had to run the length of the court eventually throwing a Hail Mary-three. The shot was straight but fell short to end the trilling contest.
“Gusto kong ibigay yung credit sa players,” Gican said about the win. “Talagang hindi sila gumive-up dun sa pressure na binigay ng Lyceum sa amin. Yung tiwala namin na kaya namin silang talunin.”
MJ Ayaay added 15 points for the Pirates while Alban and Baltazar scored eight markers each.
The Perpetual Altas (5-2) next face the dangerous EAC Generals (2-5) on Tuesday, August 2 at 12:00nn. Lyceum, on the other hand, has no room to lament this loss as they face the Arellano Chiefs on the same day at 2:00pm.
UPHSD (71) – Dagangon 16, Akhuetie 13, Pido 10, Eze 10, Coronel 7, Sadiwa 6, Oliveria 4, Singontiko 3, Hao 2, Dizon 0, Yuhico 0
LPU (68) – Nzeusseu 18, Ayaay 15, Alban 8, Baltazar 8, Alanes 7, Caduyac 7, Marata 3, Serafico 2, Malabanan 0, Rubite 0
Quarterscores: 19-21, 36-40, 54-55, 71-68