MANILA, Philippines—The Lyceum Junior Pirates are headed to the finals of the NCAA juniors basketball tournament for the first time, after a thrilling 78-76 victory over the San Sebastian Staglets, Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
John Barba exploded for 36 points, McLaude Guadana had a typical all-around effort of 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists, and the Junior Pirates recovered from a double-digit deficit in the first half to seize the victory.
They will play the San Beda Red Cubs in the best-of-3 finals. The top-seeded Red Cubs punched their ticket to the championship round last Tuesday, with an 82-79 win over the No. 4 La Salle Greenhills.
The Junior Pirates were seeded second in the Final 4 but had to maximize their twice-to-beat advantage, after losing 84-75 to the Staglets, also last Tuesday.
San Sebastian appeared headed for another upset in the do-or-die game, leading 44-37 at the half.
But the Junior Pirates dominated the third quarter, 19-10, to seize the lead, and continued to fend off the Staglets in the payoff period. Milo Janao made it a two-point game late, but Lyceum escaped with the win after Rafael Are's halfcourt heave at the buzzer fell inches short.
Dylan Darbin had 18 points, and Kim Bulasa put up 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists for the Staglets. Nikko Aguilar added 14 markers for the third-seeded squad.
This is the first time that Lyceum made the Final 4 -- and the first time that they will make the Finals -- since joining the NCAA.
LYCEUM 78 -- Barba 36, Guadana 14, Montano 10, Omandac 7, Panganiban 6, Garing 3, Ragasa 2, Gamlanga 0, Garro 0, Santos 0, Caringal 0, Caduyac 0, Gudmalin 0, Dejelo 0.
SAN SEBASTIAN 76 -- Darbin 18, Bulasa 15, Aguilar 14, Janao 9, Barroga 6, Are 6, Una 4, Perez 2, Concha 2, Brizo 0, Lustina 0.
Quarters: 18-20, 37-44, 56-54, 78-76.
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