LYCEUM turned to Dexter Zamora in the endgame to eclipse Emilio Aguinaldo College, 73-67, on Friday at The Arena in San Juan and sustain its impressive start in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Zamora, the gutsy fourth-year guard from Bukidnon, scored the go-ahead floater and grabbed the all-important defensive rebound in the next possession to preserve the Pirates’ fourth-quarter stand after trailing most of the way.
It was the Pirates’ third straight victory and fourth overall against two losses, matching their best start since joining the country’s oldest collegiate league in 2011.
“It all boiled down to defense,” Pirates coach Bonnie Tan said. “Pag dating sa dikitan, you can't win on offense lang. Ito yung isa sa example 'nun."
Wilson Baltazar also recovered from a dismal performance in his last three games, pumping in 20 points including four triples, eight boards, one block, and one assist in 26 minutes for the Pirates, who dealt the Generals their fourth loss in five games.
Joseph Gabayni continued his solid play since being named the press corps’ Player of the Week, tallying 14 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and one steal in 32 minutes.
But it was Zamora’s heroics that spelled the difference.
After Baltazar scord a putback to tie the game at 67, Zamora put the Pirates ahead for good with a runner over an unprepared Cedric Happi with 27.1 seconds left.
Then the 5-foot-9 playmaker, one of the smallest players on the court, snatched the game-sealing defensive rebound off a Jan Jamon miss then drew an unsportsmanlike foul from Jack Arquero.
LPU 73 – Baltazar 20, Zamora 15, Gabayni 14, Mbida 8, Bulawan 8, Maconocido 4, Malabanan 2, Taladua 2, Pamulaklakin 0, Soliman 0, Lesmoras 0, Elmejrab 0
EAC 67 – Happi 16, Tayongtong 13, Arquero 10, Aguilar 7, King 7, Serrano 6, Onwubere 5, Jamon 3, Santos 0, Mejos 0, Pascual 0
Quarterscores: 11-19, 35-35, 49-55, 73-67