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Pirates cruise to 12th straight victory

Lyceum of the Philippines University’s engine fired up late but still powerful enough for a 95-75 rout of Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) in Season 94 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) seniors basketball tournament on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan City.

After a shaky sailing in the first three quarters, the leading Pirates posted their 12th win in as many games.

“It’s not really something we’re surprised with because we know in the first half, usually, the energy level of the other team is still there. We know that we’re going to make some mistakes. What’s important for us is how we sustain it for 40 minutes,” said Lyceum coach Topex Robinson.

CJ Perez led the Intramuros-based team’s balanced offense, firing 19 points on top of five rebounds and three steals in the win. Lyceum forced EAC to a season-high 38 turnovers and squeezed out 38 markers off those blunders.

“We know that our strength is our defense,” said Robinson. “What the other teams haven’t figured out is how to break our press.”

Cameroonian center Mike Nzeusseu racked up 18 markers and seven boards while Jaycee Marcelino, who missed last game due to flu, made up for lost time with an all-around effort of 15 points, seven dimes, four steals and a rebound

Ralph Tansingco and Jayvee Marcelino added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Lyceum squad that moved to six wins away from repeating its elimination sweep last season.

Following a tight game in the first half, Tansingco hit back-to-back triples to give the Pirates some breathing space, 61-53, heading into the final frame.

Lyceum widened the gap to 74-61 on Nzeusseu’s basket at the 5:16 mark but Juju Bautista sank a layup and Jerome Garcia drained a trey to shove EAC within 66-74 with 4:19 remaining.

The Generals, however, ran out of steam and the Pirates sailed to a finishing 21-9 surge anchored on the second-stringers.

Garcia exploded with a game-best 30 points to go with nine rebounds while Juju Bautista had a double-double of 19 markers and 13 boards even as Cameroonian big man Hamadou Laminou had the same feat of 10 points and as many rebounds for EAC.

Garcia and company’s efforts though went down the drain as Ariel Sison’s EAC slid to its fifth straight defeat and fell to the bottom with a 2-9 record.

Meanwhile, Mapua University (2-8) and Jose Rizal University (2-9) are still playing at press time both hoping to stay in contention.

The scores:

LYCEUM (95)– Perez 19, Nzeusseu 18, Marcelino JC. 15, Tansingco 11, Marcelino JV. 10, Pretta 5, Ayaay 4, Valdez 4, Santos 4, Yong 3, Caduyac 2, Ibañez 0, Lumbao 0, Cinco 0, Serrano 0.

EAC (75)– Garcia 30, Bautista 19, Hamadou Laminou 10, Maguliano 8, Gonzales 4, Cruz 2, Neri 2, Diego 0, Corilla 0, Natividad 0, Mendoza 0, Cadua 0.

Quarterscores: 20-18; 41-40; 61-53; 95-75

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