A year after crashing out of the Final Four, Letran got its revenge on Lyceum.
Behind numerous heroes who will forever live in the school’s folklore, the Knights vanquished the Pirates, 92-88, to advance to the NCAA Season 95 Seniors Basketball Finals, Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
“I know that this team left by coach Napa is a very talented team. From the first day na nag-practice ako sa Letran, I kept on mentioning [to] them this is the best team na nahawakan ko. talent-wise,” said first-year Letran head coach Bonnie Tan. “Surprise rin in a way kasi we’re ranked in the middle sa elimination, but now we’re playing for the championship.”
And it took the combined efforts of Fran Yu, Jerrick Balanza, Larry Muyang, and Bonbon Batiller to shake off the pesky Pirates.
Up by just two, 74-72, Yu — the pint-sized guard who choked during last season’s Final Four encounter —sparked a 10-0 blast to give Letran a 12-point edge with five minutes left.
Besides Yu, Muyang and Balanza also contributed in the furious rally.
“I’ll give it to my veterans,” expressed Tan.
Yu had 20 points, six assists, and five rebounds to lead the Knights to their first Finals in four years. Muyang added 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting to go along with nine boards. Meanwhile, Batiller and Balanza had 13 and 11 markers, respectively.
The Pirates, though, had one last fight in them.
Mike Nzeusseu carried Lyceum on his back, slowly chipping into the lead. The Marcelino twins then zoned in, forcing the Knights to numerous turnovers.
A Jaycee Marcelino bucket with 24 ticks left sliced the lead down to just two.
Letran was unperturbed, though, as Jeo Ambohot was able to find Muyang underneath seconds later for the dagger.
Jaycee Marcelino tallied a game-high 26 points for Lyceum, who will not make the last stage of the tournament for the first time in three years.
“Malungkot lang kasi kailangan lang talunin is my former team. Malungkot na masaya. Nakapag-championship na sila the past two years,” said Tan, who handled the Pirates during their first few years in the NCAA.
Nzeusseu, Ralph Tansingco, Jeff Santos, and Spencer Pretta played their final game for Lyceum.
Nzeusseu had 19 points, 15 rebounds, and two swats. On the other hand, Tansingco only had four points in 14 minutes of game time while Santos added three. Pretta did not play.
Letran will face arch-rivals San Beda Red Lions in the best-of-three title series. Game One takes place on Tuesday, November 12 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
CSJL 92 — Yu 20, Muyang 19, Batiller 13, Balanza 11, Reyson 6, Mina 5, Sangalang 5, Balagasay 4, Ular 4, Caralipio 2, Javillonar 2, Ambohot 1, Olivario 0.
LPU 88 — Jc. Marcelino 26, Nzeusseu 19, David 11, Caduyac 5, Jv. Marcelino 5, Navarro 5, Tansingco 4, Ibanez 4, Remulla 4, Santos 3, Guinto 2, Valdez 0.
Quarterscores: 20-26, 44-40, 67-66, 92-88.
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