Pirates win shy of sweep, rip JRU 5
Lyceum of the Philippines University primed up for its blockbuster rematch with San Beda next week as it crushed Jose Rizal U, 100-63, yesterday to move a win from sweeping its way to the finals of the 93rd NCAA seniors basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.
CJ Perez dished out another MVP-like performance, sizzling with a game-high 24 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals to power the Pirates to their 17th straight victory and closer to the finals with a huge thriceto-beat edge.
But LPU will need to hurdle San Beda, the defending champion, for the second time on Thursday to accomplish a historic feat.
“We are staring at history and it staring back at us,” said LPU coach Topex Robinson, whose 17-win record this year matched the number of victories – against 37 defeats – the school compiled the last three seasons.
But Robinson knows the last stumbling block will be their biggest test of all.
“It will feel like a championship match,” he said.
Ranged against league’s best defensive team whose average losing margin is 2.38 points, the Pirates used their superb attacking game then gave the Bombers a dose of their own medicine by coming through with a series of stops through their pressing defense to pull away late in the third.
The Bombers, assured of a semis spot at third, fell to 11-7.
Earlier, San Sebastian vented its ire on a hapless Mapua side and scored a 97-70 rout to force a threeway tie for fourth with Letran and Arellano U at 8-9.
Jayson David, Alfren Gayosa and Alvin Capobres combined for 59 points as the Stags took control in the early going and went on to post the one-sided win over the last-placed Cardinals.
SSC then watched Letran fall to San Beda, 68-73, to join the Knights and the idle Chiefs at fourth heading to their respective final games in the doubleround elims.
David erupted for 24 points while Gayosa and Capobres backed him up with 18 and 17, respectively, as the Stags snapped a three-game skid while boosting their bid for the fourth and last Final Four spot.
San Sebastian will play ousted Perpetual Help in its final elims playdate on Thursday while Letran and Arellano will also take on also-ran St. Benilde and Mapua, respectively. The Cardinals sank to 3-14. Meanwhile, the Lions nailed their 15th win in a row and 16th overall against one loss as they outhustled the Letran Knights in the fourth quarter to hack out the five-point victory, 73-68.
San Beda broke out of a tight 63-61 game in the last five minutes as Donald Tankoua and Robert Bolick hit crucial baskets to anchor the Lions’ strong finishing kick.
Tankoua finished with 15 points while Bolick added 13 markers for the Lions, who will face lone tormentor and the unbeaten Lyceum Pirates for the top seeding next Thursday.
San Beda’s Robert Bolick gets the first step against Tommy Gedaria of Letran as he attacks the basket during their NCAA clash at the San Juan Arena. JUN MENDOZA