by Christian Jacinto
Games Thursday (The Arena, San Juan)
4 p.m. – Mapua vs EAC (Jrs)
6 p.m. – Mapua vs EAC (Srs)
Lyceum scored just a single basket in the fourth quarter but it was enough to weather the gigantic rally of San Sebastian for a 60-55 victory in NCAA Season 89 last night at The Arena in San Juan.
The Pirates were almost assured of a win when Shaq Alanes hit a three-pointer for a commanding 58-31 lead with 1:04 left in the third. But in a bizarre turn of events, the Stags refused to roll over and die.
San Sebastian awoke from its lethargic form in the first three quarters, embarking on a big 24-0 blast, including 22 straight in the payoff period that ended with a split by Leo de Vera from the charity stripe with 23 ticks to go.
His foul shot pulled the Stags to within 55-58, but it proved to be the last gasp on their improbable comeback bid.
With the furious Stags hot on their tails, the Pirates broke down their trapping defense before finding a leaking Andrei Mendoza for a wide-open layup with 15 seconds remaining to break the drought.
Mendoza’s basket avoided a monumental collapse to snap the five-losing skid of Lyceum, which concluded its first round campaign with a 3-6 record.
Sweet-shooting Wilson Baltazar scored all of his career-high 19 points in the second and third periods as Lyceum looked poised to end its losing ways with ease.
But it turned out to be the otherwise as the Stags made a frantic push late to set up one of the season’s most bizarre finishes.
“Parang nanalo nga yung kalaban pero again, we have to earn yung points namin (sa start), kailangan lang di kami naghahabol,” said Lyceum coach Bonnie Tan, whose team led 18-4 at the end of the first quarter.
“Every game is a learning experience, sana ma-adapt namin itong learning na ‘to sa next game.”
Jomari Lacastesantos complimented Baltazar’s career night with 12 points and four assists. Jeremiah Taladua added nine points as the Pirates played sans guard Dexter Zamora to serve the last of his three-game suspension.
CJ Perez scored 11 of his 16 points in the Stags’ blazing rally in the fourth while adding six rebounds and two steals in a losing effort as the Stags fell to 4-5, trailing Jose Rizal University (5-4) for fourth.
Jamil Ortuoste returned from an injury he suffered in the 83-64 loss to San Beda and finished with nine points and three rebounds in limited minutes.