What was supposed to be a breeze turned into a tense-game for last season’s runners-up.
Despite having a very strong start, the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates had to dig deep and regain their composure in a 106-97 win over the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, Friday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
This is the Pirates’ 20th straight elimination round win, last tasting defeat in the preliminaries back in September 23, 2016.
Building off a strong first quarter that saw the Pirates limit EAC to just 13 points and forcing them to commit 14 turnovers, Lyceum was able to race to a 72-41 lead midway through the third frame.
However, the Pirates’ fire dropped.
Behind the returning Hamadou Laminou and Jerome Garcia, the Generals stormed back with a blistering 36-8 run. The blitz was capped by a breakaway layup courtesy of Jerome Garcia to cut the lead to just three entering the final stanza.
“EAC played well. I’m happy to see Laminou back. Glad to pick up the win but I think we relaxed in the third,” said Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson as Laminou finished with 34 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocks. Garcia had 20 points for the Generals as well.
Lyceum went back to its bread and butter in the final frame. With CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino, and Reymar Caduyac pushing the pace, the Pirates were able to restore their double-digit lead late in the game.
“I just reminded the players that EAC also practices. If we’re not going to honor the game, it will come back to haunt us. If they think that EAC will just give the game to us, it’s going to be a disaster,” shared Robinson.
Marcelino filled up the statsheet with 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, five steals and two assists. Perez added 20 points, six steals, five rebounds, and two assists.
Mike Nzeusseu, who had a 20-20 outing on opening day, was plagued by foul trouble all throughout the contest – finishing with just seven points.
“Still, it’s part of the learning process for us,” closed Robinson.
Lyceum (2-0) will next face the JRU Heavy Bombers on Friday, July 20 at the Filoil Flying V Centre. EAC (0-1), on the other hand, goes on the road on Thursday, taking on the Arellano Chiefs in Legarda.
LPU 106 – JC Marcelino 24, Perez 20, Tansingco 11, JV Marcelino 10, Nzeusseu 7, Serrano 7, Ayaay 6, Caduyac 5, Ibanez 4, Valdez 4, Lumbao 3, Yong 3, Pretta 2, Santos 0, Cinco 0
EAC 97 – Laminou 34, Garcia 20, Mendoza 13, Bautista 10, Robin 9, Magullano 5, Natividad 3, Cruz 2, Tampoc 1, Neri 0, Diego 0, Cadua 0, Bugarin 0, Gonzales 0
Quarterscores: 30-13, 59-38, 80-77, 106-97