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Tiebreaker Times


Lyceum completes historic sweep to advance to Finals

The Lyceum of the Philippines University has completed the biggest one-year turnaround in the 93 seasons of the NCAA.

After finishing in ninth place just a season ago, Mike Nzesseu and the Pirates have secured an outright Finals berth in the NCAA Season 93 Seniors Basketball tournament after surviving defending champions San Beda College Red Lions in overtime, 107-105, Thursday afternoon.

The Pirates finish the elimination round with an unblemished 18-0 record, the best-ever start in league history. Moreover, Lyceum condemned San Beda to a do-or-die semifinals. The defending champions will play on Thursday, October 26.

“Again, credit goes to the players. They really were… they just don’t wanna give up. Credit goes to the coaches also that really are working extra hard on my behalf,” said fourth-year Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson. “It’s really about being together and we always talk about ‘together is better,’ and it’s just a testament of really working together as a solid group, it could really change a lot.”

Leading MVP candidate Mike Nzeusseu stamped his class in the epic contest, scoring 27 points, grabbing 21 rebounds and swatting two shots in 43 minutes. But it was CJ Perez who proved his worth to the deafening Lycean crowd in attendance with 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals in 44 minutes of action.

“I’m so blessed I’m surrounded with the right people. These guys, they get the credit, it’s not mine,” remarked Robinson.

Perez had a chance to soak in all the glory during the first overtime, knocking down a tough fadeaway jumper over Donald Tankoua with 4.7 ticks left. However, with San Beda burning all its timeouts, Robert Bolick needed to speed all the way down the court. Trapping him though was Jaycee Marcelino and MJ Ayaay. But as he tried to throw a pass, referee Edmar Avis whistled a foul on Marcelino. Bolick though muffed his first attempt and converting on the second to send the game into another extra five minutes.

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“We just told them the more minutes that we stay on the floor, the more people we will inspire,” shared Robinson, “San Beda is really a strong team, and we respect them, they’re a well-coached team, they’re the defending champions, and we are just relying on having our heroes, the people that we honor in this game.”

With the game breaking the two-hour mark, fatigue was already setting in on the student-athletes that have been battling it out. Moreover, Reymar Caduyac and Jayvee Marcelino had already fouled out for Lyceum while Javee Mocon and Donald Tankoua also fouled out during the first overtime.

Baskets were hard to find in double overtime but the Pirates were able to find a way. With 12.1 ticks left, Nzeusseu was able to draw a foul on Arnaud Noah and knock down two free throws. A miss by Robert Bolick with 1.9 ticks left led to the game-sealing free throw by Perez.

For the first time in 11 years, the Red Lions won’t be the top seed entering the playoffs. In addition, Lyceum became the first team to sweep the elimination round since 2010.

Lyceum led by as much as 14 points during the second half but a 14-2 blitz by San Beda in the third frame powered the Red Lions right back into the contest.

Tankoua finished with a season-high 34 points to go along with 13 rebounds and two blocks. Bolick and Mocon added 16 and 14 points respectively with the latter grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out seven assists.

#ReadMore  San Beda completes Red Cubs quartet, secures Yukien Andrada

There were a lot of prominent personalities present in attendance, including Lyceum alumnus and multi-time PBA champion Leo Austria, Lyceum school owner Bobby Laurel, TNT head coach Nash Racela, and Cignal-San Beda Hawkeye players Oping Sumalinog and Jason Perkins.

The Scores:

LPU 107 – Nzeusseu 27, Perez 20, Marcelino JC 9, Caduyac 9, Pretta 8, Santos 8, Ayaay 7, Baltazar 6, Serrano 6, Marcelino JV 4, Ibanez 1.

SBC 105 – Tankoua 34, Bolick 16, Mocon 14, Doliguez 13, Abuda 8, Presbitero 6, Soberano 5, Noah 4, Oftana 3, Cabanag 2, Potts 0, Bahio 0, Adamos 0.

Quarterscores: 25-22, 56-46, 70-69, 85-85, 97-97, 107-105.

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