Lyceum of the Philippines University was supposedly heading into its toughest stretch in the NCAA 93 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
And yet, even up against already playoff-bound Jose Rizal University on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Centre, the Pirates made it look easy.
Everybody from CJ Perez to Spencer Pretta was on-point as the league-leaders stamped their class on the once flying high Heavy Bombers, 100-63.
The win was LPU’s 17th in as many games, keeping it at the top spot ahead of a much-awaited matchup with defending champion San Beda College.
The Pirates imposed their will from the get-go and outscored their opponents for all of the four quarters. “We came to play. We came to honor the game and we will play how we always play,” a beaming head coach Topex Robinson said.
It took until the final frame, however, for the match to turn into a mismatch. “You always want to be at your best. Whether we are up by 20 or down by 20, we will always play the same,” Robinson said.
In a two-minute sequence that may just perfectly paint a picture of the Intramuros-based squad’s season, they forced four turnovers in a row that led to a Mike Nzeusseu windmill, a CJ Perez slam, and a Spencer Pretta to Perez alley-oop.
By then, the score read 76-55. And with 7:50 still remaining, JRU head coach Vergel Meneses already waved the white flag.
Perez was the lone player in double-digits with 24 points on top of eight rebounds, four rebounds, and four steals.
Pretta and Ralph Tansingco chipped in nine points apiece while Raymar Caduyac, Jaycee Marcelino, Jeffrey Santos, and Edcor Marata all had eight markers.
Now at 17-0, LPU goes for an eliminations sweep against the 16-1 Red Lions next Thursday at the same venue.
If the league-leaders win, they automatically advance to the Finals with a twice-to-beat advantage. If the defending champions win, they force a playoff for the top-seed.
Win or lose, the game had no implications for the Heavy Bombers who are already locked into the third-seed.
Lloyd Castor topped the scoring column for them with 12 points as they ended the eliminations at 11-7.
LPU 100 – Perez 24, Pretta 9, Tansingco 9, Caduyac 8, Marcelino JC 8, Santos 8, Marata 8, Marcelino JV 6, Serrano 6, Ayaay 4, Nzeusseu 4, Ibanez 4, Liwa 2, Baltazar 0, Cinco 0
JRU 63 – Castor 12, Teodoro 11, Dela Virgen 10, Poutouochi 8, Mendoza 8, Sibangan 4, Mariano 4, Grospe 4, Abdul Razak 2, Mate 0, Sawat 0, Pontejos 0, Bordon 0, Lasquety 0, David 0
QUARTER SCORES: 24-18, 42-34, 68-53, 100-63
This story was originally published on the ABS-CBN Sports website.