As Prince Eze relished the moment of beating the Lyceum Pirates, the Nigerian student-athlete sat inside the press room of the Filoil Flying V Centre. Trying to fight off tears, he declared:
“It is possible!”
In their last 30 elimination round games in the NCAA Seniors Basketball Tournament, the Pirates have been untouchable. But as Eze said, anything is possible.
The Perpetual Altas clawed back from a late nine-point deficit, eventually knotting the game at 81-all with 1:05 left. With the 6-foot-10 beanpole guarding the post, the Pirates could not score. And it all boiled down to the final possession for the Altas.
“To hold LPU – a very, very strong team – to hold them 13 points in the last quarter is just something else. I just have to give it to my guys,” said first-year Altas head coach Frankie Lim.
Edgar Charcos was able to find Tonton Peralta in the corner, but his triple badly missed. Fortunately for the Altas, Eze was there to clean up his teammate’s mess, knocking down a putback as time expired.
“Big game by Eze of course. He has MVP stats again tonight. Twenty-five points, twenty-three rebounds, and two blocks,” added Lim, who forgot one thing: Game-winner.
“Like I said to you, we have a lot of rookies in our team so we just have to follow the coaches which tells us what to do,” added the fourth-year big man.
“We just keep on fighting, we keep on fighting we were never down.”
But having MVP-like numbers does not entail winning the plum itself.
Last season, Eze averaged 15.5 points, 17.2 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game. However, with the Altas finishing with a disappointing 4-14 record, he was not eligible for the MVP race.
This time around, the Altas are in the thick of things with a 7-5 record – just half-a-game behind fourth-running CSB Blazers. And with six games remaining, Eze made a vow.
“I’m going to the playoffs!”
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