MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) Rommel Calahat made the big plays in the end game as San Sebastian College stunned Lyceum of the Philippines University, 73-71, in a crucial game in the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball tournament, Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Calahat slipped past Mike Nzeusseu to score the go-ahead lay-up with 5.2 seconds left, then stripped the ball from Reymar Caduyac in the Pirates' final possession, thus preserving the victory for the Golden Stags.
The win hiked San Sebastian's record to 9-6, widening their lead on Mapua University and De La Salle-College of St. Benilde for the fourth and last spot in the semifinals.
For the Pirates, the loss denied them of a chance to secure the second seed. Instead, Lyceum dropped to 12-4 in the tournament.
"Well, malaking bagay kasi sa amin ito dahil we're fighting for our life para sa Final 4," said San Sebastian coach Egay Macaraya.
"The good thing about it is, even if pangit 'yung start namin, the boys showed character and nahabol pa rin nila," he added. "We had composure last minute sa game, so the victory is credit to the boys. Hindi talaga sila naggi-give up."
The Stags trailed by as much as 19 points, and were still down by 10, 43-33, at the half. But Allyn Bulanadi waxed hot in the third quarter, helping the Stags trim the deficit. In a preview of their heroics in the fourth quarter, Bulanadi nailed a three-pointer with 33 seconds left, then Calahat converted a lay-up that made it a one-possession game, 53-50, heading into the payoff period.
A triple by Ken Villapando tied the game at 53 with under nine minutes left, and it was back-and-forth from there as neither team could take control. The Stags seized a 71-69 lead with a minute to go after a clutch three-pointer by Alvin Capobres, but Jaycee Marcelino knotted the count with a pair of free throws with still 21 seconds to go.
San Sebastian nearly wasted its chance to go ahead when Bulanadi's pass to JM Calma was fumbled, but replays showed that it was Jayvee Marcelino who last touched the ball. That gave the Stags enough time to regain the lead, with Bulanadi finding Calahat open under the basket for the lay-in.
"'Yung attention (ng Lyceum), na kay RK (Ilagan) at saka kay Capo (Alvin Capobres)," said Bulanadi. "Sabi ko kay Calahat, nag-eye-to-eye contact kami, sabi ko lang, parang sinasabi ko sa kanya gumawa ka ng paraan para makakuha ka ng bola."
"Sakto, 'yung import nila (Mike Nzeusseu) nakaharap kay RK, si Rommel nasa likod niya. Pinasa ko na. Buti naman. Magaling naman mag-finish 'to," he added.
Calahat then iced the win by stealing the ball from Caduyac in the Pirates' final possession.
"Kagaya po sa sinabi po ni Coach Egay, defense lang at saka sa rebound lang po talaga," said the rookie after the game.
Bulanadi had another superb performance, scoring 28 points -- 10 in the fourth quarter -- along with 7 rebounds. RK Ilagan had 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting, scoring 5 points in the final frame to help the Stags stay in the game. Calahat had 7 points and 8 rebounds in the win.
Meanwhile, Jaycee Marcelino had 21 points for the Pirates. The former Rookie of the Year scored 12 points in a scintillating fourth quarter, but they ran out of steam in the end. Nzeusseu added 16 points and 12 rebounds.
SAN SEBASTIAN 73 -- Bulanadi 28, Ilagan 11, Capobres 9, Calma 7, Villapando 7, Calahat 7, Tero 2, Loristo 2, Sumoda 0, Desoyo 0, Altamirano 0, Isidro 0.
LYCEUM 71 -- Jc. Marcelino 21, Nzeusseu 16, Santos 9, Caduyac 7, Jv. Marcelino 5, Tansingco 5, Ibanez 3, Navarro 3, Valdez 2, David 0, Yong 0, Pretta 0, Guinto 0.
Quarter scores: 11-26, 33-43, 50-53, 73-71.
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