All it takes is one shot.
6’1″ all-around player MJ Ayaay knocked down the biggest shot of his young career to lift the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates past their Intramuros neighbors, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, 68-66, Thursday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Ayaay scored 16 markers in the game, 10 of Lyceum’s last 15 points, to complete the Lyceum hijack.
“When MJ got it, he was zoned in. He knows what he’s gonna do with the basketball,” said Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson about Ayaay. “He’s taken the responsibility of winning the game or losing the game for us.”
Prior to the game-winner, Ayaay had scored 10 of the last 15 Lyceum points as the Pirates trailed by as much as 10 points, 61-51.
Then came the game-winning moment.
Ayaay drove past a plethora of Knights before knocking down the final nail into the coffin with 3.8 ticks remaining to create a logjam at fifth place in the 92nd season of the NCAA Seniors Basketball tournament.
Just like in their first round game which saw Letran fall 75-72 to close out the opening round, McJour Luib once again took the responsibility for making the final shot. Again his shot went wayward, resulting in another Lyceum win.
“We did some crucial stops and momentum shifted our way, that’s why we got this big win,” Robinson said about the work his team had shown on defense.
Wilson Baltazar complemented Ayaay’s efforts with 18 points, while Shaq Alanes added nine markers, eight from the opening half. Foreign student-athlete Mike Nzeusseu was limited to just six points but was able to grab 13 boards.
Rey Nambatac and Jom Sollano were the only Knights to score in double-digits. The league’s leading scorer dropped 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Letran’s captain added 19 points.
The Lyceum Pirates (5-5) face another one of their Intramuros neighbors, the Mapua Cardinals (6-4), on Tuesday, August 23, at 4:00pm. On the other hand, the Letran Knights (5-5) look to snap out of their losing streak as they face the JRU Heavy Bombers (5-5) on the same day at 2:00pm.
LPU (68) – Baltazar 18, Ayaay 16, Alanes 9, Nzeusseu 6, Caduyac 5, Gabayni 4, Marata 4, Alban 2, Serafico 2, Magbuhos 2, Soliman 0.
CSJL (66) – Nambatac 24, Sollano 19, Ambohot 8, Quinto 7, Balanza 5, Calvo 3, Apreku 0, Balagasay 0, Dela Peña 0, Luib 0.
Quarterscores: 11-20, 37-41, 51-57, 68-66