Lyceum of the Philippines University and Colegio de San Juan de Letran were going at it in the middle of the Filoil Flying V Centre floor on Friday.
The Intramuros rivals were tied seven times and traded the lead 11 times in the battle between contenders.
With six minutes to go, it was the Knights who had an 11-point lead and seemed to be on their way to their biggest win since 2015.
That didn’t look like it when you looked at the face of Pirates captain MJ Ayaay, however.
In fact, the graduating forward was the face of calm and scored six of his season-high 20 points in the last six minutes to rally his team to a come-from-behind 87-82 victory versus Letran. “Sinasabi ko lang lagi sa (teammates ko), enjoy lang. The past few games, hindi na kami nag-smile kaya feeling namin, pagod at nakuntento kami,” he shared post-game.
He then continued, “Kailangan naming i-enjoy ulit yung laro.”
Without a doubt, that was exactly what Ayaay was doing – especially during his now-trademark free throw routines which have him smiling wide when releasing the ball.
You can’t fault him for doing that, though, as he was a perfect 6-of-6, including going 2-of-2 in the last six minutes, from the line.
And as team leader, he wants nothing more than for the other LPU players to follow his lead – from Reymar Caduyac to Mike Nzeusseu and from CJ Perez to Jaycee Marcelino.
Asked what he was telling his teammates before and after their own free throw routines, he answered, “Breathe. Yun lang, breathe.”
Breathe, and smile, the Pirates did and in the end, their rally past the Knights has them at a still perfect 8-0 in the season.
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