COMEBACK IS REAL. CJ Perez had LPU battling back from 13 points behind in the last four minutes before MJ Ayaay finished the job in the endgame.
Kent Salado was going on a rampage right from tip-off for Arellano University on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
When it mattered most, however, it was Lyceum of the Philippines University which went on a rampage.
Going on a 20-5 tear in the last four minutes, the Pirates just narrowly dodged an upset ax from the Chiefs, 94-92, to keep their perfect record intact in the NCAA 93 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The league-leaders found themselves behind for majority of the matchup and still by 13, 74-87, with 4:18 remaining until they turned up the heat on defense. “Arellano was the better team this afternoon, but again, we just kept playing. We just grinded it out with them,” a relieved head coach Topex Robinson said.
With his go-to lineup of the Marcelino twins, MJ Ayaay, Mike Nzeusseu, and CJ Perez, Robinson saw his team score 14 unanswered points in a two-minute span to snatch away an 88-87 lead.
Right in the ensuing possession, however, Perez was called for his fifth foul and had to leave the game. Rence Alcoriza made good on both free throws and followed that up with a short stab to put the Chiefs back on top, 91-88 with 1:24 remaining.
“I told them then it’s really important we stick it out together,” Robinson shared. “And hopefully, come out as winners.”
It was at that point that Ayaay took charge and scored five straight points to take LPU onto a 93-91 advantage – the last two points had him getting blocked by Lervin Flores at first and then following up his own miss.
Salado then fished a foul from Jayvee Marcelino and was sent to the line, but only converted the first and clanged the second.
Moments later, Jaycee Marcelino’s split from the stripe put the finishing touches on the Pirates’ epic comeback. “What we shared with them is that going through shared adversity is going to solidify our campaign,” Robinson said.
Ayaay did it all and totaled 20 points, 10 rebounds, and two assists while Nzeusseu contributed a 15-marker, 11-board double-double.
Caduyac was also steady with 15 caroms and seven rebounds while Jaycee Marcelino chipped in 13 points, eight boards, four assists, and four steals.
Perez had 14 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out.
Without a doubt, it was total team effort that led to LPU’s 12th win in as many games. “What this proved is this is not a CJ Perez team,” the head coach said, nothing but proud of his wards.
Salado did his best to pull off the upset for Arellano with 24 points, seven assists, and five rebounds.
With his backcourt-mates struggling to take care of the ball in the endgame, however, he saw his team fall to 4-7.
LPU 94 – Ayaay 20, Nzeusseu 17, Caduyac 15, Perez 14, Marcelino JC 13, Baltazar 7, Santos 4, Marcelino JV 2, Ibanez 2, Tansingco 0, Pretta 0, Liwag 0, Serrano 0, Marata 0
ARELLANO 92 – Salado 24, Flores 15, Abanes 12, Nicholls 11, Enriquez 8, Alcoriza 7, Dela Cruz 6, Villoria 4, Taywan 3, Concepcion 2, Canete 0, Meca 0, Filart 0
QUARTER SCORES: 26-23, 44-47, 57-70, 94-92
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