Mapua stuns Letran; NCAA forfeits Perpetual win
By: Cedelf P. Tupas - Reporter / @cedelfptINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer
Photo: CJ Perez. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.net
Lyceum brandished its newfound depth even as Mapua showed it can survive without that same amount of firepower.
With CJ Perez dishing out an all-around game in his first NCAA game in three seasons, the Pirates justified the preseason hype with a 96-75 beating of contender Jose Rizal U Tuesday in the Season 93 men’s basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Centre.
The Pirates’ firepower was on display with seven players scoring at least seven points, including Perez, a former San Sebastian standout, who presided over a second half blitz to roll past one of the teams tipped to challenge San Beda for the title.
Lyceum outscored JRU, 53-38, in the second half where the Pirates swarmed at the Heavy Bombers at every opportunity, forcing turnovers and translating them to easy baskets on the other end.
Lyceum coach Topex Robinson refused to get carried away by the performance, saying the Pirates are far from a championship team.
“Obviously it’s a good output, but you don’t win a championship in the first game,” said Robinson, whose squad faces defending champion San Beda in an early clash of favorites on Friday.
“We try to stay in the moment. You always try to get better. We’re gonna be up against the number one team after this game. We’re just excited and glad that we got this win.”
Perez, who transferred to Ateneo in 2015 before moving to Lyceum last year, pumped in 22 points and 10 rebounds, but committed seven of the Pirates’ 21 turnovers, which remained a concern for Robinson.
“I got too excited and too eager,” said Perez, referring to his errors.
While there was no shortage in manpower for Lyceum, the Mapua Cardinals squeezed the best out of the nine players who suited up before leaning on clutch plays from Andoy Estrella to subdue Letran, 78-75.
Emerging as Mapua’s go-to-guy following the decision of two-time Most Valuable Player Allwell Oraeme to sit out the season, Estrella buried a step back triple with 5.2 seconds remaining for the marginal basket.
Meanwhile, the NCAA Management Committee immediately overturned Perpetual Help’s 69-65 victory over St. Benilde after the Altas showed up with the wrong uniform in their season debut.
Tipoff for the noontime clash was delayed for close to an hour before the league decided to push through with the game since both teams wore dark jerseys, which was only designated for the Blazers.
Perpetual Help also forfeited its game in the juniors division to St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills, which still won the game, 64-60.