THE rampaging Lyceum Pirates leaned on a 24-point explosion by CJ Perez to rout the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, 100-63, in the 93rd National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball tournament yesterday at the Arena in San Juan.
Their 17th straight triumph put them a win closer to an 18-game sweep as well as an outright finals berth with a thrice-to-beat incentive.
Lloyd Castor unloaded 12 points for the Heavy Bombers, who finished the elimination round with an 11-7 slate and the no. 3 seed in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the San Beda Red Lions banked on a big endgame push from Robert Bolick Jr. and Donald Tankoua to overpower the Letran Knights, 73-68.
Their penetrations in the last five minutes lifted the Red Lions to their 16th win in 17 games.
Their 16-1 win-loss record and the Red Lions 15th consecutive triumph kept them in second spot to keep within striking distance of the unbeaten Lyceum Pirates.
Bolick’s drive and his assist to Franz Abuda’s layup in the last 3:55 allowed the Red Lions to overtake the Knights, 65-63.
The Red Lions then worked to protect their advantage, and after two turnovers, Tankoua’s putback with 2:24 left put them ahead by five, 68-63.
The Knights fought to stay within range, 65-68, off Bong Quinto’s drive, but Bolick hit a clutch basket, and Tankoua drilled in two charities, in the final 1:12.
And this kept the Red Lions out of range, 72-65.
“They gave themselves a good chance of making it to the top 4,” said Red Lions coach Boyet Fernandez.
Beating the Pirates, keeping Lyceum from taking an outright finals, and getting the no. 1 seeding in the Final Four will be the Red Lions’ goal when they clash with the Intramuros-based dribblers on Thursday.
Earlier, the San Sebastian Stags crushed the Mapua Cardinals, 97-70, to keep their flickering Final Four campaign alive.
The trio of Jayson David, who led with 24 points, joined hand with Alfren Gayosa and Alvin Capobres in delivering the decisive blow for the Stags, who ended a three-game losing slide.
They moved to a share of fifth spot with the Arellano U Chiefs on 8-9 (win-loss) record, and this gave them a chance to clinch at least a playoff for a Final Four spot.
This will happen if they hurdle Perpetual Help Altas in the final play date of the elimination round on Thursday.
“We just have to keep the faith,” said San Sebastian coach Egay Macaraya.
In the junior division, Alex Desoyo shot 22 points, a winning free throw in the last 6.8 seconds, and stopped Clint Escamis from scoring a triple to help power the San Sebastian Staglets to an 81-80 triumph over the Malayan Red Robins.
As the top seeded Red Robins got their fourth loss in 17 games, the Staglets moved up to a share of fourth with the Letran Squires at 10-7.
Ain Obenza only had five points, but his two freebies in the last 20.6 seconds propelled the San Beda Red Lions to a 63-60 triumph over the Letran Squires.
The Red Cubs (12-5) overtook La Salle Greenhills for the no. 2 seeding. LSGH (11-6) earlier posted a 77-81 upset over the Emilio Aguinaldo College Brigadiers.
(Filoil Arena, San Juan)
8 a.m.- EAC vs UPHSD (jrs)
10 a.m.- MU vs AU (jrs)
12 nn.- EAC vs UPHSD (srs)
2 p.m.- MU vs AU (srs)
4 p.m.- CSJL vs CSB (srs)
6 p.m.- CSJL vs CSB (jrs)