Behind another 20-20 game by Cameroonian big man Harry Nzeusseu, the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates bowled over the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Golden Stags, 83-79, to go to an even slate for the first time in two years, Tuesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Nzeusseu had a monster outing, with 26 points and 24 rebounds in 36 minutes of play. Three others Pirates scored in double-figures, with Wilson Baltazar chipping in 14 points, including four threes. MJ Ayaay and Shaq Alanes adding 10 markers each.
“This is special because I’m playing against my Alma Mater,” said a grateful Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson. “Again, credit to the players and the coaching staff that’s really been doing the works here.”
After falling by as much as 13 points in the second quarter, the Stags were able to withstand the furious pace of the Pirates, eventually taking the lead, 59-58, after a long jumper by Regile Ilagan with a minute to go in the third frame. However, Nzeusseu was quick to respond with a basket to give the lead back to Lyceum entering the final frame.
Behind Reymar Caduyac, who stepped up for Ian Alban’s off game, the Pirates were able to build a 77-69 lead with 4:44 remaining in the game. Caduyac scored all nine of his points in the final quarter, capped by a triple that gave Lyceum the eight-point edge.
“He doesn’t usually shoot threes but he was open,” Robinson shared about Caduyac. “I trust him with all my heart. Sabi ko nga sa kanya, ‘it’s either you miss it or you make, you work on it.’ He was big. “
Ryan Costelo, in his first game back from injury, tried to will the Stags back into it, scoring nine straight San Sebastian points to cut the lead to just three, 76-79, with 1:06 left on the clock. After a basket by Edcor Marata with 54 seconds remaining, Ilagan was able to drain a booming triple exactly 10 seconds later to cut the lead to just two and force Robinson to call a timeout.
“I told them that you know, there’s so much pride in that school and that program, and they’re not just gonna give up on us,” former Stags head coach Robinson reflected.
After the timeout, Marata drove through traffic to find Nzeusseu waiting underneath. The Cameroonian calmly drained a lay-in to give his team a four-point cushion. Misses by Capobres and Calisaan ended San Sebastian’s comeback hopes.
Costelo led the Stags with 23 points. Jerick Fabian and Regile Ilan scored 19 and 15 points respectively. However, the Stags shot a poor 33.73 percent from the field compared to a strong 48 percent game from Lyceum.
The Lyceum Pirates (3-3) will face a daunting task for their next assignment as they face Bright Akhuetie and the Perpetual Altas on Friday, July 29 at 2:00pm. On the other hand, the San Sebastian Stags (1-5) look to snap their losing streak on the same day against the EAC Generals (1-5) at 12:00nn.
LPU (83) – Nzeusseu 26, Baltazar 14, Ayaay 10, Alanes 10, Caduyac 9, Marata 7, Serafico 4, Alban 2, Malabanan 1, Soliman 0, Magbuhos 0.
SSC-R (79) – Costelo 23, Fabian 19, Ilagan 15, Calisaan 10, Mercado 3, Quipse 3, Sera Josef 2, Johnson 2, Calma 2, Baetiong 0, Capobres 0, Valdez 0, Gayosa 0, David 0, Bulanadi 0.
Quarterscores: 23-24, 48-41, 59-58, 83-79