Breaking the monotony
In a tournament where the overwhelming narrative is Lyceum’s monotonous march to yet another undefeated elimination round in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, it takes big-time performances or dramatic wins to grab the spotlight.
Laurenz Victoria earned his share Thursday, burying the winning basket with seven-tenths of a second remaining to rescue Mapua against Jose Rizal, 81-79, at Filoil Flying V Centre.
It helped that Victoria had some advice from one of the country’s legendary shooters, his own coach, PBA great Atoy Co.
“With my experience, the more you look for your shot, the basket just gets smaller and you’ll likely miss the shot,” said Co in Filipino. “I just told them to play defense and you will be relaxed by the time you have to score.”
The Cardinals’ sweet shooter sank the game-winner over the defense of Jed Mendoza as the Cardinals added a little luster to their struggling campaign—Victoria’s heroics sealed just the third win for the Cardinals in 11 matches.
But it did spice up a playdate of a season that is shaping up to be a two-team race for the crown and has fans lazily gnawing cold peanuts at the stands trying to figure out if Lyceum is ever going to suffer a loss in the elimination round.
It might, but not today.
The Pirates made sure of that, taking a familiar route to crushing Emilio Aguinaldo College, 95-75, in another game.
In what has become an oft-repeated refrain, the Pirates again pulled away in the fourth quarter after toying around with the Generals for three quarters.
EAC was within 61-54 going into the fourth but, as everyone who has watched a Lyceum game the past couple of weeks probably expected, the Pirates burned rubber and tore off on the way to their 12th straight victory in as many games.
Spencer Preta sparked Lyceum’s initial run that stretched the lead to 72-61 before the Marcelino twins took over. Jaycee and Jayvee scored four points each in the Pirates’ 8-0 run that gave them a commanding 89-69 lead with 1:26 left in the game.
Pirates head coach Topex Robinson said he wasn’t worried that the Generals were within striking distance with one quarter left to play.
“I think that’s something we’re not surprised about but what’s important to us is we should sustain our effort for 48 minutes,” said Robinson. “We should have discipline both in the offensive and defensive end.”
CJ Perez led the Pirates with 19 points and five rebounds while Mike Nzesseu had 18 points and seven boards.
Jaycee Marcelino had 15 points, seven assists, and four steals for the Pirates while Ralph Tansingco and Jayvee Marcelino added 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the yawner.
Mapua’s game-winner wasn’t the only clutch shot Victoria made as he had a big three-pointer with 1:04 left in the game that put the Cardinals up 79-74.
Victoria’s three could’ve been the dagger but ill-advised foul calls and a technical foul on Mapua assistant coach Randy Alcantara awarded the Heavy Bombers five free throws in a span of less than 40 seconds.
Mark Mallari made those free throws that tied the game at 79 with 21.5 seconds left in the game.
After Victoria’s shot, JRU had a chance to tie the game but JR Aguilar’s jumper bounced off the rim after hitting the square of the backboard.
Mallari led the Cardinals’ offense with 17 points while also clamping down on JRU’s Mendoza, who had 19 first half points but finished the game with 22.
Warren Bonifacio had 13 for Mapua.
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