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Red-hot Junior Pirates chase last spot in Final Four

THE Lyceum Junior Pirates are on a roll, as they cut a swathe across the landscape riding a six-game winning streak in the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association Junior Basketball Tournament.

The Junior Pirates stayed in contention for a Final Four semifinal slot after their 95-90 overtime victory over the Emilio Aguinaldo College-Immaculate Conception Academy Brigadiers last Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.

They are tied in fifth place with the La Salle Greenhills Greenies (College of St. Benilde). Both are seeking the last semis berth in the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Junior Basketball Tournament.

Makki Santos drove off Kerby Dularte in the last 1:56 to help the Junior Pirates move ahead. In the end, he led all scorers with 24 points.

Lyceum University Junior Pirates big man Mclaude Guadana (16) stretches to grab the basketball against the Emilio Aguinaldo College Brigadiers. 

Even after the Junior Pirates lost to the Mapua Red Robins, 61-64, they never lost hope.

They continued believing that they will make it, with coach LA Mumar guiding them on.

“May pag-asa pa. Malayo pa kasi,” said Mumar.

Their run of victories started with their 76-73 triumph over the Letran Squires, followed by 88-82 romp in the first round over the Staglets.

It continued with a 79-76 beating of the Brigadiers, before they smashed the Staglets again, 88-74, in the second round.

To grab in the Final Four, they will have to hurdle the Jose Rizal University Light Bombers, and the tougher LSGH Greenies.

“La Salle Greenhills yan, eh,” said Mumar, noting that the Greenies will be toughest opponents that are waiting for them.

Against the Brigadiers, the game went into overtime, 83-all, after the 18-year old Santos missed three of four charities in the last 12 seconds.

In the extra period, Santos scored on a drive off Kerby Dularte in the last 1:56.

This gave the Junior Pirates a 5-point lead, a 90-85 advantage, and lots of space to pull off the win.

“Maganda ito, we have a chance. Nasa amin pa ang aming kapalaran,” said Mumar.

Santos, a 10th grader, is just one of four key players who can make things happen for the Junior Pirates. He averages of 10.8 points and 10.73 rebounds.

His output is considered his highest in 14 games. Providing plenty of support are teammates Generoso Cecilio, Chester Jungco and Mclaude Guadana who need to be more productive.

College of Saint Benilde (La Salle Greenhills Greenies) player Andrei Magpantay (7) starts to elevate for a layup against San Sebastian Staglets defender Damie Cuntapay (10). 

“We are not the most talented. But this team fights to the end,” said Mumar.

Meanwhile, Alain Madrigal banged in 20 to carry the La Salle Greenhills Greenies (College of St. Benilde) to an 87-57 smashing of the San Sebastian Staglets.

Both have 10-6 win-loss records, while the Brigadiers dropped out of contention at 8-8.

They are  still at risk of losing their grip and let slip a semis slot, considering that they have tough opponents in their last three games.

On the other hand, the San Beda Red Cubs are on a 15-game winning streak. They repulsed the Staglets last Tuesday.

The Mapua Red Cubs, with their 14-game winning romp, are close in second, after coming away with an 86-73 swamping of the Braves on Friday last week.

Getting past the Staglets have boosted the bid of the Greenies.

With the win, the Greenies have posted four consecutive triumph following their loss to the Brigadiers last Sept. 4.

Their efforts to survive the cut for the Final Four gathered steam with their 69-48 whipping of the Letran Squires, followed by an 87-54 thumping over the JRU, and an 83-58 romp over Perpetual Help.

In repulsing the Staglets, coach John  Flores gave the 6’2” Madrigal free rein in the post since they are man short under the basket. One of their big men, John Malillin, was not allowed to play because of studies.

“He played out of position. He played post. And he played well,” said Flores.

Flores said the team was not focused on what will happen in their game with the Staglets, but how they will deal with the Pirates and the Red Robins, their remaining foes.

“Right now, we are not talking about the standings. But how we will finish the last two games,” said Flores.

Statswise, Madrigal, who is from Boac, Marinduque, is among the top players of the Greenies, averaging 10 points and 7.31 rebounds.

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