Arellano defeats Lyceum, keeps NCAA final four bid alive

There’s still hope for Arellano University in its bid to make the final four of the 87th NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The Chiefs snapped a three-game losing skid with an 89-77 win over skidding Lyceum on Friday at the FilOil-Flying V Arena.

Andrian Celada torched the Pirates for 29 points and rookie guard Kims Pagayunan made up for the absence of foul-stricken Vergel Zulueta to help the Legarda-based cagers improve to a record of 5-10.

However, Arellano is still in eighth place in the standings but cut its deficit to Mapua (6-8) for the No. 4 spot to 1 1/2 games.

For the Chiefs to catch up, they need to win their last games against San Beda, Mapua and Perpetual.

“Ayokong i-jump sarili ko sa sitwasyon basta kami game-to-game basis kami,” said coach Leo Isaac.

Celada had 10 points in the first quarter and combined with Rocky Acidre in helping AU take a 28-18 lead.

Lyceum, though, made things interesting when Chris Cayabyab scored off Zulueta’s fifth and final foul with 8:43 left to pull within 64-59 in the fourth quarter.

From there, Pagayunan stepped up, scoring on a drive inside. After a Pirates basket, Celada and Pagayunan sank three-pointers for a commanding 72-61 lead with about 7 minutes remaining. Pagayunan scored 10 points in the fourth to finish with 12.

Acidre, who had 11 first quarter points, finished with 17 markers and Zulueta added 13 markers.

Jun Napiza and Rich Guevarra registered 18 points each for the Pirates with the former grabbing 16 rebounds in 30 minutes.

Jhygruz Laude, who had 14 points in the second and third, finished with 16 points and Cayabyab added nine points and 13 boards.

The Pirates succumbed to their fourth straight defeat and dropped a game back from Mapua at 5-9.

Lyceum is now in a tie for sixth with Jose Rizal University and just behind College of Saint Benilde (5-8) at solo fifth.

The scores:

ARELLANO 89 – Celada 29, Acidre 17, Zulueta 13, Pagayunan 12, Doligon 6, Lapuz 5, Gumaru 4, Salcedo 3, Palma 0.

MAPUA 77 – Napiza 18, Guevarra 18, Laude 16, Cayabyab 9, Ko 7, Francisco 3, Lacap 2, Zamora 2, Azores 2, Mallari 0, Lesmoras 0, Anacta 0.

Quarters: 28-18; 50-40; 64-57; 89-77.

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