This time around, the Lyceum Pirates refused to let the College of Benilde Blazers get too close for comfort.
Four Pirates, led by Jaymar Perez, made sure of that as Lyceym put away St. Benilde, 77-64, yesterday in the 94th National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament at the Arena in San Juan.
Perez led with 17 points and 10 rebounds as the Pirates secured the first twice-to-beat incentive in the Final Four semifinals with their 15th triumph in 17 games.
The Pirates took charge at the start of the second half, with the triple from Perez in the opening seconds of the third touching off a 10-5 blast that widened Lyceum’s two-point, 37-35, halftime lead to 47-40 in the last seven minutes.
Mike Nzeusseu, who had 13 points and broke the game’s only deadlock, 37-35, near the end of the first half, struck with a layup off Reymar Caduyac’s assist to bring Lyceum’s lead up to 10, 53-43, with 4:53 left.
MJ Ayaay had 10 points and his triple in the last 2:30 of the third gave the Pirates a 57-50 lead and momentarily halted a Blazers’ rally.
Caduyac also tallied 10, making eight of them in the last period. His driving shot in the last 8:57 propped Lyceum up, 66-57.
Justin Gutang had 13 points for the Blazers, who now have an 8-8 slate in fifth.
LPU coach Topex Robinson said the team has learned a lot from their 79-80 loss to the Letran Knights, adding the setback has humbled them as a team.
“I guess we’re lucky to know that what we prepared for, we never abandoned, and what’s really important to us. It’s a big lesson. That loss to Letran. It really kept us humble,” said Robinson.
In the junior division, split charities in the last 12 seconds from RC Calimag and Joel Cagulang bailed the defending champion La Salle Greenhills Greenies out of trouble and into a 80-75 triumph over the Lyceum Junior Pirates.
Joshua David finished with 20 points for the Greenies, who snared the first two-to-beat incentive with their 14-2 slate.
“We got the lead in the game early, took control of the early in the first half. But we did not play defense tough enough. But, we outscored them in the fourth quarter,” said Greenies coach Marvin Bienvenida.
Zach Estacio and Winston Ynot banged in 15 points for the San Beda Red Cubs in their 83-71 swamping of the Arellano Braves. Their 11th victory in 16 outings allowed the Red Cubs to stay in contention for a twice-to-beat bonus.
They are a notch behind the second-running Malayan Red Robins (12-4).