LYCEUM bucked a monumental meltdown to hack out a 60-55 victory over San Sebastian and snap out of a long losing spell in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Monday at The Arena in San Juan.
Squandering an enormous 27-point lead and almost going scoreless in the payoff period could not prevent the Pirates from pulling off their first victory in six games and third overall against six losses.
Rookies Wilson Baltazar and Joemari Lacastesantos stood at the forefront of the attack of the Pirates, who moved up to eighth place in a tie with Arellano after coming off a long break due to the floods.
“Pinaghandaan namin talaga ’to eh,” said the 19-year-old Baltazar, who finished with 19 points built on five triples. “Yung mga suspended games sinamantala namin yun para makundisyon. Na-apply naman sa game, pero nung last quarter, muntikan pa kami.”
The Pirates’ lone basket in the final canto came from skipper Andrei Mendoza, who stopped the bleeding by scoring on a short stab to give the Intramuros-based dribblers a breather that turned out to be the final score.
While the ending was ugly, the Pirates’ scorching start was notable as it was a far cry from previous outings where they would always try to make a comeback only to fall short.
“Ngayon, nagkabaliktad. Nagpahabol naman sila,” Pirates coach Bonnie Tan said. “So nakita pa rin yung immaturity namin.”
“But every game is a learning experience,” he added.
The Golden Stags clawed back from a 31-58 deficit behind CJ Perez and Leo de Vera, but came up short and fell below .500 with a 4-5 win-loss card.
Perez, the versatile, highly touted rookie, was the lone double-digit scorer for the Stags with 16 points, nine coming from the fourth quarter where they outscored the Pirates, 22-2.
The result spoiled the return of Stags guard Jamil Ortuoste, who had been sidelined with a sprained left ankle.
LPU (60) – Baltazar 19, Lacastesantos 12, Taladua 9, Mendoza 6, Mbomiko 4, Alanes 4, Evangelista 2, Ambohot 2, Ko 2, Garcia 1, Soliman 0, Lesmoras 0
SSC (55) – Perez 16, Ortuoste 9, Guinto 8, Dela Cruz 7, Tano 6, De Vera 5, Gusi 2, Trinidad 2, Rebollos 0, Vergara 0, Aquino 0, Magno 0
Quarterscores: 18-4; 36-21; 58-33; 60-55.