By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
THE defending champions San Beda Red Lions secured top spot in the elimination round of Season 94 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association after defeating the Lyceum Pirates, 75-68, in their deciding game on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Both needing a win to secure the number one seed in the Final Four of the ongoing NCAA season, the Lions (16-1) stepped up to the plate and seized the victory but not after having made to sweat late in the game by the Pirates (15-3).
The win was also a payback by San Beda on Lyceum which dealt it its lone defeat to date in the first round.
Mike Nzeusseu got things started for Lyceum, helping his team to an early 7-2 lead in the first quarter.
But guard Robert Bolick would take the lead for San Beda with the team going on a 16-6 run the rest of the period to go on top, 18-13.
Bolick And Company continued to impose their dominance over the Pirates in the second quarter, racing to a 35-24 advantage with 3:23 to go in the frame.
Lyceum tried to narrow down their deficit after but could only take it down to eight points, 39-31, by the halftime break.
In the third quarter, the Lions sustained their aggressiveness, extending their lead to 18 points, 51-33, midway.
The Pirates managed to cut San Beda’s lead to 14 points, 53-39, a minute later only see the Lions pull away once again.
The count stood at 59-48, and San Beda on top, heading into the payoff quarter.
Sensing they needed to step up if they are to claw back in the game, Lyceum scrambled to begin the fourth period and not allow the Lions to just run away with the win.
CJ Perez and MJ Ayaay led the Pirates to within five points, 71-66, with 1:05 left in the game.
Donald Tankoua though stopped the bleeding for San Beda with a basket with 43 ticks left, giving his team more breathing room, 73-66.
Ayaay scored a bucket for Lyceum off a steal to come to within five anew, 73-68, with 36 seconds remaining.
The Pirates still had a chance to come even closer but a turnover by Spencer Pretta off an inbounds play with 20 seconds left proved to be costly as they could not recover from it.
Bolick and rookie James Kwekuteye led the Lions with 18 points apiece with Tankoua finishing with 15 and Javee Mocon 13.
Nzeusseu, meanwhile, paced Lyceum with 15 points with JC Marcelino adding 14 and Ayaay 11.
San Beda still has one game left to play against the Perpetual Help Altas on Tuesday, Oct. 23.