DEFENDING champion La Salle Greenhills became the first team to clinch a twice-to-beat advantage in the NCAA Juniors tournament as it smothered Lyceum, 80-75, on Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Arena.
Joshua David and Ladis Lepalam sparked a second quarter breakaway, with the reserve big man Lepalam scoring all of his nine points in that second quarter breakaway and open a 43-26 halftime lead.
It was a lead that they will pad to up to 21 before holding off the Junior Pirates in the end game.
“We’ll treat it as a knockout game, that first game in the Final Four. We’ll push ourselves even more this year,” said La Salle Greenhills head coach Marvin Bienvenida.
“This is an unfamiliar situation for us. We have a little success from this. We just have to handle that success,” he added.
David led the Greenies with 20 points as Josel Cagulangan added 13 points, six boards and six assists. Inand Fornillos and RC Calimag added 12 points apiece for the now 14-2 La Salle Greenhills.
It was an unfortunate loss for the Junior Pirates who remained at fifth place after dropping to 9-8 with a game to go in the elimination round.
The only way they can barge into the Final Four is to forge a playoff against the fourth running Jose Rizal University – and that can only happen if the Light Bombers drop their remaining games and the Junior Pirates beat the San Beda Red Cubs in the next game.
McLaude Guadana led the way for Lyceum with 20 points as John Barba added 19 points and 11 rebounds.
CSB-LSGH 80 – David 20, Cagulangan 13, Fornilos 12, Calimag 12, Lepalam 9, Palencia 6, Mosqueda 5, Lao 3, Morales 0, Sangco 0, Cortez 0
LPU 75 – Guadana 20, Barba 19, Jugar 10, Omandac 9, Tulabut 7, Dejelo 3, De Leon 2, De Guia 2, Gudmalin 2, Caringal 1, Nocal 0
QUARTERS: 17-16, 43-26, 62-54, 80-75