EAC gives a good scare, but LPU still sails to spotless 7-0

EAC gives a good scare, but LPU still sails to spotless 7-0
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR. For the first time, LPU was challenged until the final buzzer by a fighting EAC side.

Emilio Aguinaldo College left it all on their own home floor in Paco, Manila on Thursday.

And still, it was not enough against Lyceum of the Philippines University who remain undefeated in the NCAA 93 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

CJ Perez made an impact all over, Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee continued to wreak havoc, and the Pirates had all the answers for the daring Generals in a well-fought 97-93 decision.

For the first time in the tournament, LPU was challenged until the final buzzer and was clinging onto a lead of only two points with 53 ticks to go. “Actually, we need games like this to sharpen us. We need to know na kailangan, grounded pa rin kami,” assistant coach Jeff Perlas said.

EAC then got another defensive stop with Rustan Bugarin denying Perez’s try under the basket.

However, the home team would not be able to convert as Raymund Pascua muffed on his baseline jumper. Juju Bautista collared the offensive rebound and passed it outside to Francis Munsayac only to see the latter lose his handle on the ball.

Jaycee Marcelino took possession and his easy layup proved to be the icing on the cake that was the Pirates’ seventh win in as many games. “That was a gutsy play. Actually, I give him the credit – he and CJ bailed us out in this game,” Perlas said.

Marcelino wound up with a career-high 20 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals to backstop Perez who had 20 points, five assists, and three rebounds.

This win didn’t come as easy as the ones that came before, though, as the visiting team had to fight through the ejection of head coach Topex Robinson in just the second quarter. “We just trusted these players na kahit sino humawak sa players na ‘to, they can self-motivate. They know what’s at stake,” the assistant coach said.

Also, the Generals rode the all-out support from their own faithful inside the Sports and Cultural Center and were going toe-to-toe with the league-leaders. “At the same time, it’s really hard to play as visitors kasi the homecourt advantage and everything,” Perlas said.

The tally was tied at 49 late in the second quarter before Perez’s stepback three granted LPU a three-point cushion heading into halftime.

The Pirates then went on a 12-2 run to begin the third quarter punctuated by a highlight alley-oop connection by the Marcelino twins for a 64-51 lead.

EAC wasn’t giving up just yet, however, and had a fightback of their own even as Sidney Onwubere and Jeric Diego fouled out of the game.

They still had a shot until the final buzzer, but unfortunately, Munsayac let the ball slip away.

Munsayac’s career-best 26-point outing went to waste as his team dropped to 3-3.

BOX SCORES

LPU 97 – Perez 20, Marcelino JC 20, Nzeusseu 17, Marcelino JV 9, Caduyac 8, Ayaay 6, Baltazar 5, Ibanez 5, Santos 3, Tansingco 2, Marata 2, Pretta 0

EAC 93 – Munsayac 26, Garcia 19, Bautista 11, Diego 11, Bugarin 10, Onwubere 6, Pascua 5, Neri 3, Mendoza I 2, Corilla 0, Mendoza J 0, Tampoc 0, Guzman 0

QUARTER SCORES: 27-24, 52-49, 77-71, 97-93

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