by Kristel Satumbaga
Games Monday (Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. – LSGH vs Mapua (Jrs)
4 p.m. – Lyceum vs San Beda (Srs)
San Beda University inched closer to its third straight NCAA men’s basketball crown after whipping the CJ Perez-less Lyceum side, 73-60, yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Red Lions dictated the tempo from start to finish and took Game 1 of their best-of-three championship affair.
It was anticlimactic finish as the Lions exploited the absence of the do-it-all Perez, who served his one-game suspension after failing to notify the league of his desire to join the PBA draft.
That also cost Perez another MVP trophy. The coveted plum went to University of Perpetual Help’s Prince Eze.
Perez’s absence clearly affected the dynamics of the Pirates as they struggled in the opening quarter that saw them trail, 19-9. The Red Lions led by as many as 20 points at the end of the third period, 59-39.
Javee Mocon, who was a member of the Mythical Five Team, paced San Beda with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while fellow Mythical Five Team member Robert Bolick and Clint Doliguez combined for 23 points. Donald Tankoua, another Mythical Five awardee, contributed 10 points and 16 rebounds.
Mike Nzeusseu finished with 16 points and 14 boards for Lyceum while twins Jayce and Jayvee Marcelino posted 13 points each, but their efforts were not enough to fill in the void left by Perez.
Lyceum hopes to extend the best-of-three finals series in Game 2 on Monday where Perez will be back in the lineup.
Letran’s Larry Muyang pocketed the Rookie of the Year award and Arellano’s Archie Concepcion won the Most Improved Player.
Defensive player awardees were Emilio Aguinaldo College’s Hamadou Laminou, Lyceum’s Mike Nzeusseu, San Sebastian’s Michael Calisaan, Tankoua and Eze.
Meantime, La Salle Greenhills fended off Mapua’s late rally en route to a 74-69 victory and likewise moved within a win from retaining its juniors basketball title.