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Basketball

Lyceum survives adversity, Letran for 8-0 start


For the first time this season, the Lyceum of the Philippines University faced a double-digit lead, Friday afternoon. Moreover, the Pirates needed to solve it without their head coach Topex Robinson, who was suspended for the game.

Still, the league-leaders fought back, making a huge fourth quarter rally to snap the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights’ four-game winning streak, 75-68, at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.

“Unang-una roon, before the game, I wrote on the board we really talked about composure. Yung word na composure nandoon sa board,” said assistant coach Jeff Perlas. “I was giving them, I have a list – ito they would make a run, what would you do? We are down, the calls of the referee maybe not going [our way], what will you do? Pagdating sa game, they will be in that situation.”

CJ Perez led the Pirates once more, scoring 14 points but needing 19 attempts to do so. With their captain struggling, it was the collective effort of the Lyceans that lifted Lyceum to their eighth straight win.

The Pirates were behind by as many as 17 points, 37-20, midway through the final frame and 59-53 entering the final frame. But just like a diesel engine, Lyceum went full throttle to start the fourth quarter, going on a 10-3 rally behind the duo of Reymar Caduyac and Mike Nzeusseu, and taking the lead for the first time, 63-62, with 5:43 left.

“I’m just so proud of these guys dahil hindi talaga sila sumuko. It’s really a good test for us,” Perlas declared.

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A basket by Rey Nambatac with 4:55 remaining was the last Letran basket for the next four minutes, as Nzeusseu and the Pirates locked the Knights down. By the time JP Calvo ended the drought that saw the Knights miss seven straight field goals, Lyceum was already up 70-66.

“May rim protector ka there. He doesn’t have to be on offense na siya yung center sa offense. Pero dun sa defensive side dun talaga nakakapanibangan. I was challenging him: Mike, the players of Letran are already tired. So every set na bibitawan nila, I know you will get that rebound,” Perlas said about Lyceum’s Cameroonian student-athlete, as Letran were without big man Jeo Ambohot for the first time this season.

Free throws by Nzeusseu, MJ Ayaay, and Caduyac sealed the win for Lyceum.

Nzeusseu finished with a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 15 rebounds while swatting away three shots. Jaycee Marcelino added 13 points, while Caduyac made a living from the charity stripe, scoring all 12 of his points from the free throw line.

Nambatac’s streak of double-doubles ended in the game, leading Letran with 16 points while grabbing six rbeounds. JP Calvo and Bong Quinto finished with 11 and 10 points respectively.

The Knights shot 37.6 percent from the field compared to 33.85 percent for the Pirates. However, they could not keep their opponents off the foul stripe, committing 27 fouls that led to 41 free throw attempts.

Lyceum look to sweep the opening round on Tuesday, August 22, against the Mapua Cardinals. Letran ended their first round campaign with a 5-4 slate.

The Scores:

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LPU 75 – Perez 14, Nzeusseu 13, Marcelino JC 13, Caduyac 12, Ayaay 7, Baltazar 5, Marcelino JV 4, Ibanez 4, Tansingco 2, Pretta 1, Marata 0.

CSJL 68 – Nambatac 16, Calvo 11, Quinto 10, Balanza 8, Balagasay 6, Mandreza 6, Taladua 5, Caralipio 4, Pascual 2, Gedaria 0, Vacaro 0, Bernabe 0.

Quarterscores: 18-26, 35-44, 53-59, 75-68.

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