Miguel La Torre
Photo by Angela Davocol.
After clinching their first Final Four berth in the last three years, the Letran Knights ended their Season 94 campaign with a tough 85-109 beating against the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates at the Filoil Flying V Centre, on Friday.
Lyceum took the lead the entire first half behind Mike Nzeusseu’s 12-point performance, taking a 51-47 lead at the half. It was only when Koi Galvelo sank a three that gave Letran its first lead of the ball game, 56-55, with 6:22 remaining in the third. However, the Pirates immediately unleashed a fiery run; establishing a 15-0 run to regain the lead, 70-56.
The Pirates’ lead ballooned to 37 points in the fourth quarter, capped off by a CJ Perez three-pointer with 4:27 remaining in the game.
“I give credit sa Lyceum, they gave their best and medyo malamya kami pumasok pero mabigat kasi ‘yung pagka-down ni Toto [Calvo] eh. ‘Dun nagkaroon ng problema eh. ‘Yun ‘yung naging story of the game,” said Letran head coach Jeff Napa.
“Pero that’s not an excuse, when we lose our number one point guard, everybody naging concerned, nag worry sa situation ni Calvo kaya naging ganun ang situation ng game,” he added.
Graduating point guard JP Calvo had to sit out the rest of the game after clashing with Nzeusseu earlier in the third; injuring his left leg.
Bong Quinto played his final game in a Letran uniform and was only held to 12 points on a 6-of-17 shooting after failing to overcome Lyceum’s intense defensive plays.
“Hindi ko ineexpect na ganun ang lalaruin ko eh, kumbaga wala akong naitulong sa team naming ngayon kasi, ‘yun nga, inaasahan ako sa team naming tapos nakadagdag pa ‘yung nangyari kay Calvo,” said Quinto.
“Hindi kasi makadating sa amin ‘yung bola sa baba eh kaya hindi kami makapag set ng play naming pero hindi nga talaga excuse ‘yun kasi pinaghandaan talaga ng Lyceum ‘yung laban. Kung hindi ganun ‘yung nilaro ko, siguro hindi ganun ‘yung nangyari,” the Knights’ team captain added.
Larry Muyang was the lone bright spot for the Knights, finishing with 21 points and 12 boards. Meanwhile, the duo of Christian Fajarito and Jeremiah Taladua combined for 21 points in losing effort.
For Lyceum, Mike Nzeusseu collected 23 points and 17 boards while CJ Perez tallied 19 markers, 5 rebounds and 3 assists to send the Pirates to their second consecutive NCAA Finals appearance.
LPU (109) - Nzeusseu 23, Perez 19, Marcelino, Jaycee 15, Pretta 15, Ayaay 11, Santos 9, Caduyac 8, Tansingco 3, Ibanez 2, Serrano 2, Yong 2, Cinco 0, Lumbao 0, Marcelino, Jayvee 0, Valdez 0
CSJL (85) - Muyang 21, Quinto 12, Fajarito 11, Taladua 10, Ambohot 9, Calvo 9, Batiller 6, Celis 4, Galvelo 3, Agbong 0, Mandreza 0, Yu 0, Pambid 0
Quarterscores: 29-16, 51-47, 81-64, 109-85