Behind the herculean effort of Mike Nzeusseu, the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates were able to scrape past the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Golden Stags, 85-80, Saturday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
This is the Pirates’ 19th straight elimination round win. They last tasted defeat in the opening round back in September 23, 2016.
“It was kinda ugly, but we’re gonna take the bad with the good. Kumbaga namasko kami,” fourth-year Pirates head coach Topex Robinson quipped.
The game itself was far from the usual high tempo contest that the Pirates played in a year ago. Though they led by as much as nine points, errors by the Pirates let the Golden Stags keep it close.
Last season’s runners-up ended up relying on Nzeusseu late.
With the game knotted at 77-all, the Cameroonian student-athlete powered his way to the paint to once again give his team the advantage. In the next play, Nzeusseu was able to find a wide-open Spencer Pretta for a triple with 2:14 left.
Nzeusseu had 23 points, 20 rebounds, and three assists.
Ian Valdez was able to stop the bleeding with a split on the stripe, while Nzeusseu muffed one of his freebies on the other end.
The Golden Stags had a chance to rally back after a costly foul by Raymar Caduyac on a three-point attempt by Allyn Bulanadi with 41.4 ticks remaining. Bulanadi then converted just two free throws, while a floater by MJ Ayaay on the other end sealed the win.
“We found a way to get a win and we couldn’t be any happier than that,” he added.
CJ Perez had 15 points, six rebounds, five steals, four assists, and a block for Lyceum. Jaycee Marcelino finished with 13 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals off the bench.
RK Ilagan had a team-high 18 points for San Sebastian, while Bulanadi added 15 markers for the Golden Stags, who shot just 37 percent from the field. Michael Calisaan tallied a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Lyceum will next face the EAC Generals on Friday, July 13 while San Sebastian take on the Saint Benilde Blazers earlier in the day. Both games will be played at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
LPU 85 – Nzeusseu 23, Perez 15, Marcelino JC 13, Serrano 6, Pretta 6, Yong 6, Marcelino JV 5, Ayaay 4, Caduyac 4, Ibanez 2, Santos 1, Cinco 0, Tansingco 0, Valdez 0
SSC-R 80 – Ilagan 18, Bulanadi 15, Calisaan 12, Calma 10, Valdez 7, Sumoda 6, Dela Cruz 5, Desoyo 4, Villapando 3, Capobres 0, Are 0, Baytan 0
Quarterscores: 22-14, 43-43, 67-60, 85-80