Win number seven did not come easy for Jaycee Marcelino and the Lyceum Pirates.
Even with three decks of Emilians jeering them at the EAC Sports and Cultural Center, the Lyceum of the Philippines University survived a gallant stand by the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 97-93, Thursday evening in Paco, Manila.
“It’s really hard to play kasi visitors kami. It’s really hard. Kasi the homecourt advantage and everything,” said Lyceum assistant coach Jeff Perlas. “But we need games like this to sharpen us. For the players to know, not because we’re 6-0, kailangan grounded pa rin kami.”
Early MVP-favorite CJ Perez led the Pirates with 20 points. But it was Jaycee Marcelino who provided the kick that pushed Lyceum to its seventh straight win.
“Gutsy play,” recalled Perlas. “Even before that I drew up a play for CJ, he made it. Yung bandang dulo… Actually I give this guy (Jaycee Marcelino) the credit. These two guys here (CJ and Jaycee) they bailed us out for this game.”
Up by just two points, 95-93, with less than 20 seconds remaining, Marcelino was able to pickpocket Francis Munsayac, leading to the game-sealing lay-up with seven seconds remaining.
Jaycee finished the game with 20 points as well on 8-for-14 shooting to go along with five rebounds, three assists, and four steals.
And Lyceum were able to do this without head coach Topex Robinson, as he was called for two quick technical fouls during the 6:41 mark of the second frame.
“Actually we weren’t sharp when it comes to our defense, maraming lapse, maraming break downs, but we’ll take this win,” said Perlas. “The boys really did their best for Coach Topex, who was early on was ejected [sic] because of two technical fouls. But for us, sabi ko kay coach Ariel [Sison], you made us better after this game.”
Already without Hamadou Laminou, the Generals needed to double up, as team captain Sidney Onwubere struggled in the game, shooting just 1-for-9 from the field, committing six turnovers, and fouling out with 4:37 left.
Still, it did not stop the Generals, a team that fought back from 13 points down, 64-51, during the middle part of the third frame.
Behind Jeric Diego and Francis Munsayac, EAC were able to cut the lead to as low as a solitary point, 82-83, with 6:20 remaining. However, Reymar Caduyac stopped the bleeding for Lyceum.
An isolation play by Perez with 1:10 left led to a lay-up over two defenders which turned the game into a two-possession ball game, 95-91. Rustan Bugarin, who was playing in his first-ever NCAA game, scored afterwards before the Marcelino lay-up.
Munsayac set his career-high 26 points. Juju Bautista and Jeric Diego finished with identical double-doubles with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
LPU 97 – Perez 20, Marcelino JC 20, Nzeusseu 17, Marcelino JV 9, Caduyac 8, Ayaay 6, Baltazar 5, Ibanez 5, Santos 3, Tansingco 2, Marata 2, Pretta 0.
EAC 93 – Munsayac 26, Garcia 19, Bautista 11, Diego 11, Bugarin 10, Onwubere 6, Pascua 5, Neri 3, Mendoza I 2, Corilla 0, Mendoza J 0, Tampoc 0, Guzman 0.
Quarterscores: 27-24, 52-49, 77-71, 97-93.