LYCEUM proved steadier down the stretch, edging Mapua, 78-74, on Thursday in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
It was a see-saw game throughout with 13 deadlocks and the same number of lead changes, but the Pirates held on after converting most of their free throws and coming up with crucial blocks in the endgame.
“We just relied on our defense and our prayers helped us pull through,” Pirates coach Bonnie Tan said.
Shane Ko fired 23 points on top of six boards and three assists to lead the Pirates to their second straight win against three losses.
Rich Guevarra added 14 points, five rebounds, and a crucial block on Kenneth Ighalo’s triple attempt that could have tied the game at 77.
Rookie center Daniel Garcia also came up with a crucial rejection, swatting away a Josan Nimes layup try in the previous possession.
Nimes, last year’s Rookie of the Year who averaged 25 points in the Cardinals’ two-game winning streak, was a marked man against the Pirates.
“Na-identify lang naming yung strength nila,” said Tan, whose wards limited Nimes to 10 points on 4-for-14 shooting.
As a result, Mike Parala went on to have a career game, tallying 27 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.
The Cardinals, who fell to an even 2-2 slate, can find comfort with the addition of Gab Banal, Joseph Eriobu, Mark Brana, and Jessie Saitanan in their next game.
The four prized rookies have been given the go-signal by the policy board after being suspended in the first two games due to a residency technicality.
The Pirates dedicated the game to cager Nelson Mendoza’s mother, Nenita, who died of cancer last July 8. The elder Mendoza was well-known in basketball circles, serving as secretary of the Basketball Association of the Philippines since 1996.
LYCEUM 78 – Ko 23, Guevarra 14, Cayabyab 12, Zamora 7, Azores 6, Laude 5, Francisco 5, Edding 3, Ambohot 3, Garcia 0, Martinez 0, Mallari 0.
MAPUA 74 – Parala 27, Chien 11, Nimes 10, Ighalo 9, Estrella 7, Banal 4, Stevens 4, Abad 2, Cantos 0.
Quarterscores: 17-16; 34-34; 56-56; 78-74.