The Marcelino Twins proved that the Lyceum Pirates are in good hands post-CJ Perez. The spitfire guards engineered a thrilling fourth-quarter run to lead the Pirates over the Letran Knights 84-80.
The Knights looked in control of the game with less than four minutes left in the game as veteran Jerrick Balanza nailed some big shots. But things quickly turned towards the Pirates’ way as the Marcelino Twins took over the game.
It started with the pantented Lyceum defense forcing a turnover leading to a swooping layup by JV. He then added another electric play when he jumped over the Letran defense for a fast break put back. That gave the Pirates the lead back, 75-74 with three minutes left in the final period.
With the game tied in the final two minutes, JC added to his brother’s scoring with an and-one floater over the Letran bigs. In the final minute of the game, JV found JC streaking to the basket for another fast break score to give the Pirates a five-point lead.
Letran was able to cut the lead down to just two but another costly turnover led to a JV layup to ice the game.
JC led the way with 24 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals while JV added 18 points and six rebounds. Balanza led Letran with 19 points.
In the second game, the San Beda Red Lions opened their title defense with a strong defensive effort against the Arellano Chiefs. The Red Lions won 59-46 to get their first win of the season.
Tankoua had a big double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. James Kwekuteye and Evan Nelle supported Tankoua with a combined 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Kent Salado led the Chiefs with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Midway through the game, the Red Lions looked rusty. They allowed Salado to explode with big production in the second period. Salado outscored the entire Red Lion squad 11-9 to lead Arellano back in the game. From down by eight after the first period, Arellano headed to halftime down by only one.
The Red Lions defense kicked in when the third quarter started. They zoned in on Salado and limited him to only five points after his 15-point explosion to in the first two periods. The Red Lions also shut down the rest of the Chiefs, limiting them to only 23 points in the second half.
Kwekuteye and Nelle also came alive in the second half. Kwekuteye scored all of his 10 points in the second half while Nelle added seven points during the same stretch. The Red Lions pulled away in the third period and cruised to the easy win.