LYCEUM finally put an end to a long spell of futility in the NCAA juniors’ basketball tournament after notching a historic 59-57 victory over Emilio Aguinaldo College on Friday night at The Arena in San Juan.
Living up to the league’s theme for Season 90: We Make History, the Junior Pirates halted a 59-game losing streak that dates back to their inaugural season in the country’s oldest collegiate league three years ago.
It was a long wait for the General Trias, Cavite-based dribblers, who have long been known as the league’s cellar-dwellers, suffering numerous blowout losses including a mind-boggling 157-point defeat to San Beda, 14-171, two years ago.
The Junior Pirates have come a long way from that. They may have lost their first five games of the season, but three of those games were close, including a 60-69 setback to Letran, 61-63 defeat at the hands of Mapua, and a 61-64 decision versus league leaders Jose Rizal University.
“We were due for something,” an ecstatic Junior Pirates coach LA Mumar said after the game. “Credit to the guys. Grabe talaga yung effort nila at determination.”
Pint-sized guard Generoso Cecilio sank the go-ahead floater, while undersized big man John Menil provided the muscle down low as both led the Junior Pirates, who dealt the Brigadiers their sixth straight loss.
“Nangako po kami sa sarili na hindi na sasabihan ng bawat team na pag kami kalaban ‘bonus game’,” said Cecilio, who has been with the team since 2011. “Pinapakita rin namin na deserving kami maging regular team sa NCAA.”
“We learned our lessons,” said Menil, who, like Cecilio, has seen the team go through the dark ages. “The past games puro dikit yung laban. So this game, hindi muna namin inisip yung panalo. Inisip namin hard work muna.”
“Hopefully this is the start of something good,” said Mumar, who took over the job as well as athletic directorship only last January. “This is a step toward where we want to be as a school.”
Mumar, who also dabbles as an NCAA commentator, could not help but to look back at how the team performed in the past when he was on a different side of the fence.
“Dati nga hindi kami makatawid ng half court.”
Now, they know how to win.
LPU 59 – Santos 14, Cecilio 12, Jungco 11, Menil 10, Bautista 3, Guadana 3, Wong 2, Glipo 1, Lagman 0, Pere 0, Agdon 0
EAC 57 – Tayomora 20, Montilla 12, Gentile 10, Cayabo 7, Castillo 4, Catusalem 2, Piopongco 0, Cruz 0, Falcon 0, Justan 0
Quarterscores: 15-10, 30-31, 48-49, 59-57