The Lyceum Pirates went toe-to-toe with the defending champion San Beda Red Lions in the second half.
Their determination to keep their game close yielded the Pirates a 96-91 upset of the Red Lions last night in the 93rd National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball tournament at the Arena in San Juan.
CJ Perez and Reymar Caduyac knocked in baskets that made the difference in the last two minutes for Pirates, who posted their second straight triumph in as many games.
This put the Pirates in the solo lead, an unfamiliar position for the squad that placed 9th in the previous season.
Perez tallied 24 points, including a basket off a drive past Javee Mocon in the remaining 2:28 that shattered an 89-all deadlock.
Red Lion Robert Bolick had 21 points and missed an attempt that could have forced a seventh tie.
But turnover ensued following a rebound by big man Mike Nzeusseu, who was all alone underneath after Red Lion center Donald Tankoua fouled in the last 4:20.
Caduyac, who had 18 points, drove past Clint Doliguez with 1:45 left, allowed the Pirates to grab a four-point edge, 93-89.
They nursed a six-point lead with 1:03 after Caduyac found an opening from the left side and drove in unmolested, 95-89.,
Coach Topex Robinson said he feels blessed after the Pirates won their first game over the Red Lions in four years.
The last they did was in season 89 when they came off with a 70-66 triumph in the first round.
“We’re blessed to be here. Playing against San Beda is going to take a lot of grit, perseverance and never giving up. But it’s not about me. It’s all about these players. Blessed to have them,” said Robinson.
The Red Lions (1-1) are in a five-way tie for third with Jose Rizal University, San Sebastian, Arellano University, College of St. Benilde and Mapua.