LYCEUM overwhelmed Emilio Aguinaldo College, 91-75, on Friday at The Arena in San Juan to snap a four-game skid and keep its slim Final Four hopes alive in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
In a battle between slumping teams, it was the Pirates who showed more determination as they registered their first win in five outings in the second round.
The Pirates leaned on a balanced scoring effort led by rookie big men Jebb Bulawan and Joseph Gabayni to notch a sixth victory overall in 14 games, although they remained mired in seventh spot.
“Kahit na medyo malayo na tayo sa (Final Four cast), tayo pa rin ang gagawa ng destiny natin,” Pirates coach Bonnie Tan said.
The Pirates dealt the Generals their fifth straight loss and 11th overall against only three wins, leaving them stuck in ninth spot.
Bulawan, a silent assassin, sustained his consistent play, tallying 20 points and seven boards, while Gabayni, one of the league’s top Rookie of the Year candidates, delivered as usual with a double-double of 16 points and 10 boards on top of three assists.
Together, the twin towers pounced on a Generals side that was without injured Cameroonian slotman Cedric Happi once again.
Four other Pirates scored at least nine points, with Tirso Lesmoras scattering eight of his 14 in the final frame where his team pulled away.
Star guard Dexter Zamora chipped in 16 markers, but sprained his right ankle after he stepped on the foot of EAC counterpart John Tayongtong midway through the fourth quarter.
LPU 91 – Bulawan 20, Zamora 16, Gabayni 16, Lesmoras 14, Taladua 10, Mbida 9, Baltazar 5, Malabanan 1, Soliman 0, Elmejrab 0, Maconocido 0
EAC 75 – Tayongtong 24, Onwubere 16, Arquero 14, Jamon 11, General 7, Serrano 3, Santos 0, Mejos 0, Saludo 0
Quarterscores: 22-19, 38-33, 65-59, 91-75