In a rematch of last year’s Final Four matchup, Lyceum of the Philippines University narrowly earned their revenge against Colegio de San Juan de Letran with a 70-69 victory to take the early lead in the NCAA Season 99 Seniors Basketball Tournament on Wednesday at the Filoil Ecooil Centre in San Juan.
Though only scoring nine points, it was John Barba who was the hero for the Pirates.
With Letran’s final possession, Paolo Javillonar attempted a jump shot that was erased by Barba, who grabbed his own rebound to go coast-to-coast for the game winning layup.
Kurt Reyson missed the potential go-ahead trey as time expired.
Despite being on top of the league early, coach Gilbert Malabanan knows the road ahead is still long.
“We’re happy we’re on the top, but we don’t stop playing. Hindi pa naman ito yung goal namin, malayo pa kami sa goal namin. I don’t want na magrelax kami because of that win,” said Malabanan.
It was a tight matchup between both squads for the entire 40 minutes, as the biggest lead either team could create was only seven after the Pirates tried pulling away with a Alvin Penafiel layup, 43-36 at the 7:44 mark in the third quarter.
It was Letran that held the momentum in the fourth quarter though, as the Knights found themselves with a four point advantage at the 2:45 minute mark of the final quarter after a layup from Kevin Santos, assisted by Reyson.
A clutch Triple from Umali followed by an exchange of baskets between Reyson and Barba saw Letran clutching onto a one point margin, 68-69 with 30 seconds to go.
Then Barba’s heroics happened.
Shawn Umali steered the ship for the Pirates with 15 points on 50% shooting, while Enoch Valdez added 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
Now 2-0 Lyceum faces University of Perpetual Help Systems DALTA (0-1) next on Saturday, 3:00 PM at the Filoil Ecooil Centre.
Reyson once again led the Knights with 17 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Kobe Monje and Javillonar added 13 and 10 points respectively, while Kevin Santos and Rafael Go did their damage on the boards, combining for 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Starting the season off 0-2, Letran looks to grab their first win of the season in their fight against Emilio Aguinaldo College (1-0) on Sunday, 10:00 am at the Filoil Ecooil Centre.
Lyceum 70- Umali 15, Valdez 10, Barba 9, Montano 7, Penafiel 7, Omandac 7, Villegas 5, Aviles 4, Bravo 4, Cunanan 2, Gaudana 0, Culanay 0, Moralejo 0, Versoza 0
Letran 69– Reyson 17, Monje 13, Javillonar 10, Santos 8, Go 7, Ariar 6, Cuajao 4, Galvez 3, Tolentino 1, Guarino 0, Batallier 0, Fajardo 0
Quarterscores: 21-18, 36-35, 52-51, 70-69