By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
AFTER two cancellations of play dates because of inclement weather, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) seniors basketball returns today with the league-leading Lyceum Pirates staking their unbeaten record so far in Season 93 against the College of St. Benilde Blazers.
Serving as the curtain-raiser in the scheduled triple-header at the FilOil Arena in San Juan City, the Pirates (4-0) gun for their fifth win in as many games and build on their strong tournament start against the Blazers (1-2) in their game set at 12 noon.
Following the opener is the clash between the Arellano Chiefs and Letran Knights at 2 p.m., followed by the Perpetual Help Altas against San Sebastian Stags at 4 p.m.
In its last game, Lyceum practically had its way against Arellano, going away with a 99-65 victory to remain as the only team still spotless in the ongoing season of the country’s longest-standing collegiate league.
Propelled by unceasing energy on both ends of the court and an attack coming from different directions, the Pirates proved too much to handle for the Chiefs, which simply could not go past their opponents once they fell behind early in the contest.
Intramuros-based Lyceum established a 26-point lead with 4:17 remaining in the game before stretching it further to 35 points, 99-64, with less than a minute left en route to the victory.
Do-it-all forward CJ Perez was the highest pointer for the Pirates with 16 points, 14 of it coming in the second half.
Skipper Jesper Ayaay had 13 points and nine rebounds while JC Marcelino also had 13 points to go along with six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“We caught Arellano on a bad day and we just took advantage of it. But the players played well. They were up to the challenge and they keep getting better every game,” Lyceum coach Topex Robinson said after their win over Arellano.
“It’s always a team effort for us. CJ may be the face of the team but he’ll never be better than the team as whole,” he added.
Taking stab at halting the streak of the Pirates are the more competitive but still struggling Blazers.
After getting a break in its tournament debut where it was gifted with a victory by way of forfeiture — wrong shade of uniform — over Perpetual Help, Taft-based CSB has since lost two straight.
The latest of the Blazers’ defeats came against the defending champions San Beda Red Lions, 76-52, two weeks ago.
CSB fought early in the match against San Beda but eventually caved in to the strength of its opponent on the way to the rout.
Big man Clement Leutcheu led the Blazers with 10 points and five boards while Kendrix Belgica and JJ Domingo had eight points each in the loss.
Meanwhile, in the second game, Arellano (2-2) and Letran (1-3) look to bounce back after previous losses last time around against Lyceum and San Beda, respectively.
Perpetual Help (1-2), for its part, eyes a second straight victory after finally barging into the win column in its last game while San Sebastian (1-2) angles to bounce back from being tripped previously.