Enzo Navarro scored all of his 10 points in the payoff period as Lyceum of the Philippines University carved out a 70-66 win over Arellano University to keep its hopes alive of making it to the play-in round Saturday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the La Salle Greenhills Gym.
Navarro hit a go-ahead three to give the Pirates a 66-64 lead before the Chiefs forced the game’s final deadlock via a Justin Arana lay-up with 46.3 seconds remaining.
Navarro scored a lay-up to restore LPU’s lead at 68-66 when Gelo Sablan bungled two foul shots in the final 8.3 that would have tied the game for Arellano.
The Pirates then sealed the deal with Navarro nailing two charities off a Maui Cruz unsportsmanlike foul with 4.9 seconds left.
The loss negated Chiefs slotman Justin Arana’s fifth double-double of the season. He scored 17 points and pulled down 24 rebounds, the most by any player since Allwell Oraeme grabbed 25 boards in Mapua’s 90-75 win over LPU on August 23, 2016.
Tying their victims and idle University of Perpetual Help System Dalta at 2-5 in seventh place, the Pirates are still outside the play-in range.
Teams ranked from third to sixth after the single-round eliminations will make it to the play-in stage to determine the two other Final Four qualifiers.
It took a while for LPU, which is undergoing a rebuilding process as it lost the core that made it to three consecutive Final Four stints, to jell this shortened season.
“Sobrang hirap. Kung titignan mo ‘yung line-up, apat kaming holdovers tapos ‘pag tinignan mo ‘yung minutes noon, kaming apat, hindi kami masyadong ginagamit,” said Navarro, who along with Jerwyn Guinto, Yancy Remulla and Enoch Valdez were part of the 2019 squad which placed third.
“Basically, parang rookie kami lahat. Kaya medyo mahirap kasi dati, ilang minutes lang maganda laruin mo okay na, sina Marcelino (twins) na ang bahala, sina (Reymar) Caduyac at Mike Harry (Nzeusseu). Pero ngayon, wala eh, kami na talaga ‘yung maasahan,” he added.
Enoch Valdez led the Pirates with 17 points and five rebounds while McLaude Guadaña chipped in 12 markers, four boards and two assists.