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Perpetual’s Eze leads MVP derby in NCAA

By Jerome Lagunzad

Games Tuesday
(The Arena, San Juan City)
12 noon – San Beda vs St. Benilde (J)
2 p.m. – San Beda vs St. Benilde (S)
4 p.m. – Lyceum vs Mapua (S)
6 p.m. – Lyceum vs Mapua (J)

Perpetual Help import Prince Eze towered above his more heralded contemporaries in the recent All-Star Game and also above everyone else in the 93rd NCAA seniors basketball tourney – at least in the opening round of eliminations.

EZE copy copy

Making the most of an extended playing time following the departure of fellow Nigerian Bright Akhuetie in the off-season, the 6-foot-11 Eze put himself in the early lead for the coveted league MVP plum over the likes of favorites Lyceum star CJ Perez and do-it-all Robert Bolick of defending champion San Beda.

The Nigerian slotman amassed a total of 52.44 statistical points built around his solid numbers of 17.2 rebounds – a league-high – and 2.2 blocks – second-best – on top 14.8 points anchored on an impressive 52.4 percent shooting clip, most of his shots in the lane.

Eze propped up his bid for the highest individual award despite only getting just 45 bonus points after the Altas, who reached the Final Four round last year, could only nail three victories out of nine matches in the first round, good enough for eighth place overall.

However, a league rule states that an eventual MVP winner should come among teams which will make it at least in the semifinals.

That explains why Eze is eager to put the team’s interest over his, saying: “This doesn’t mean anything to me if we are not winning. We have to win. And I just do whatever I have to do to help us win.”

Trailing behind Eze, named the All-Star Game MVP during the Team Saints’ 84-80 victory over Team Heroes last Friday, is another touted reinforcement in Lyceum’s Mike Nzeusseu, with the Cameroonian collecting 48.67 SPs courtesy of his game-averages of 11.1 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.

The 6-foot-1 Perez, the main catalyst of the Pirates’ unstoppable force so far underlined by his league-leading 18.5 markers per game, is tied at third and fourth spots with Red Lions’ versatile big man Javee Mocon with identical 47.56 SPs.

At fifth is Emilio Aguinaldo College star Sidney Onwubere with 47.11 SPs while Bolick, the top playmaker with 4.6 dimes per game, is running at sixth with 46.11 SPs.

Rounding out the Top 10 are Letran gunner Rey Nambatac (45.44 SPs), vastly-improving Mapua big man Christian Buñag (41.78), Lyceum rookie Jaycee Marcelino (40.11), and MJ Ayaay of Lyceum and Jose Rizal University center Abdulwahab Abdulrazak (39.67).