Letran sends Lyceum packing, seals NCAA finals duel with San Beda

MANILA, Philippines–Fran Yu certainly didn’t like the way their season ended last year when the Lyceum Pirates sent his Letran Knights out of the door in a semifinal knockout match.

Facing the same team in the same atmosphere as last year, Yu made sure the frustration won’t transpire again as the sharp-witted guard powered the Knights past the highly favored Pirates, 92-88, to progress to the finals of the NCAA Season 95 men’s basketball tournament.

“It was a painful exit for us last season. Coming into this game, I vowed it would not happen again,’’ said Yu after sinking 20 points on seven of 15 shooting highlighted by a pair of threes.

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By hurdling their second obstacle in the step-ladder semifinals, the Knights will now turn their attention to the finals where the defending champion San Beda Red Lions are eagerly waiting to retain their crown.

The Knights had to push the San Sebastian Stags out of the way before eliminating the No. 2 Pirates to arrange the best-of-three title showdown with the Lions, their fifth championship matchup since 2007.

“I have to give it to my veterans. We’re now looking forward to the next level,’’ said Letran coach Bonnie Tan, who also coached the Pirates before Lyceum mentor Topex Robinson took over.

Larry Muyang found his way inside the paint in the closing minutes and won his matchup with Lyceum brawny center Mike Nzeusseu while graduating guard Edson Batiller and team captain Jerrick Balanza likewise proved to be the thorn on the Pirates’ side.

Jaycee Marcelino took over in the final two minutes when the Pirates tried to erase an 11-point advantage. Marcelino’s drive pulled them within 87-90 but Muyang converted on King Caralipio’s feed on the other end that sealed Lyceum’s fate.

LETRAN 92—Yu 20, Muyang 19, Batiller 13, Balanza 11, Reyson 6, Mina 5, Sangalang 5, Balagasay 4, Ular 4, Caralipio 2, Javillonar 2, Ambohot 1, Olivario 0.

LYCEUM 88—Marcelino JC 26, Nzeusseu 19, David 11, Caduyac 5, Marcelino JV 5, Navarro 5, Tangsingco 4, Ibanez 4, Remulla 4, Santos 3, Guinto 2, Valdez 0.

Quarters: 20-26, 44-40, 67-66, 92-88.

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