A REINFORCED Lyceum compounded the early misery of Letran as it held off the Knights, 74-70, on Friday to register in the win column of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
With one of their Cameroonian reinforcements, Guy Mbida, surprisingly back in the fold and Jeremiah Taldua now healthy from a viral infection, the Pirates bucked an early deficit before showing steely resolve down the stretch.
The Pirates thus notched a first win after dropping their first assignment against Arellano, while dealing the Knights, last year’s runner-up, second successive defeat.
“It’s all about mental toughness,” Pirates coach Bonnie Tan said. “Medyo nagkulang kami sa rotation before, pero ngayon hindi na kasi yung two players natin, bumalik na.”
But it was Dexter Zamora who shone brightest with 16 points, including 11 in the second quarter where the Pirates turned the game around, while Wilson Baltazar was on target with three triples and Shane Ko ably aided Zamora in quarterbacking the squad.
Mbida, who was suddenly activated after initially being him from the lineup over what Tan felt were “demands” he had with compatriot Aziz Mbomiko, delivered in his debut with a double-double of 15 points and 12 boards.
The Cameroonian forward fired nine of his scoring output in the fourth quarter, where the Pirates pounced on the Knights’ crucial turnovers to pull off the stunning victory against an Intramuros rival.
LPU 74 – Zamora 16, Baltazar 15, Mbida 15, Ko 10, Bulawan 6, Gabayni 5, Soliman 3, Taladua 2, Maconocido 2, Pamulaklakin 0, Lesmoras 0, Elmejrab 0
CSJL 70 – Racal 13, Gabawan 11, Singontiko 11, Publico 11, Cruz 6, Quinto 5, Luib 3, Castro 2, Ruaya 2, Tambeling 2, Dela Pena 2, Nambatac 2, Calvo 0, Apreku 0
Quarterscores: 13-21, 39-35, 55-52, 74-70