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By Jerome Lagunzad

Games Tuesday
(The Arena, San Juan City)
12 nn.– Letran vs EAC (Srs.)
2 p.m.– San Beda vs CSB (Srs.)
4 p.m.– AU vs Jose Rizal (Srs,)

If there’s still any doubt if Lyceum has what it takes to go all the way in the NCAA seniors basketball tournament, the Pirates came through with yet another strong statement last night.

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Showing the uncanny poise usually seen from proven champions down the stretch, Lyceum pulled off a 96-91 stunner against reigning titlist San Beda at The Arena in San Juan City and took the early after an entertaining opening week.

Blue-chip recruit CJ Perez led their attack anew with 24 points, including a tough bucket that put them on top for good, while Reymar Caduyac, a veteran guard tasked to play the 4-spot, delivered a pair of clutch lay-ups as the Pirates outsteadied the usually composed Red Lions in a tight finish.

The stunning victory, its first over San Beda in four years since an equally shocking 70-66 decision last June 24, 2013, earned Lyceum a fitting follow-up to an impressive 96-75 victory over perennial Final 4 contender Jose Rizal University last Tuesday.

“Hopefully it would propel our (title) drive,” said Pirates coach Topex Robinson. “But again, it’s really looking at the vision of really showing that we have a good culture, good leaders, good individuals who are inspiring others.”

Do-it-all guard Robert Bolick collected 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists while fellow off-the-bench Clint Doliguez added 19 markers in yet another balanced attack but the Red Lions surprisingly lost steam in the crunch.

“To beat San Beda it will take a lot of grit, perseverance, and just never giving up,” added Robinson, who believes the Pirates should be “more ready, more prepared and more humbled” as they could be in for tougher grinds moving forward.

Earlier, Emilio Aguinaldo College, considered by many as one of the title contenders, made an auspicious debut behind a 74-64 victory over St. Benilde while JRU compounded the woes of Perpetual Help with a 68-54 decision.

Cameroon import Hamadou Laminou, although far from his top form as he continues to recover from a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury in his left knee, proved too much the Blazers frontline as he collected 21 points and seven blocks—both game-highs—on top of 13 rebounds to help the Generals set their title bid in motion.