Stags shock Pirates to strengthen F4 bid

Allyn Bulanadi and Rommel Calahat starred as San Sebastian College-Recoletos stunned Lyceum of the Philippines University, 73-71, to boost its Final Four bid in Season 95 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) seniors basketball tournament on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.

MVP candidate Bulanadi exploded with 28 points to lead the Golden Stags’ fightback from a huge deficit before rookie forward Calahat hit the go-ahead floater off the former’s inbound pass with 5.2 seconds left in the game.

Calahat then forced Lyceum guard Reymar Caduyac to commit a turnover to seal San Sebastian’s come-from-behind win.

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San Sebastian’s Alvin Capobres shoots a layup against Rhanzelle Yong of Lyceum during a Season 95 NCAA seniors basketball game on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City. PHOTO BY ROGER RANADA

The fourth-running Stags leaped closer to the semifinals with an improved 9-6 record.

“This victory is big for us because we’re fighting for our life to get to the Final Four,” said San Sebastian head coach Egay Macaraya.

“Even if we had a bad start, the boys showed guts, caught up (with Lyceum) and had the composure in the end. They didn’t give up,” added the veteran mentor.

In the opening game, Final Four contender College of St. Benilde (CSB) finally returned to the win column after holding off also-ran Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC), 62-56.

The Blazers snapped a three-game losing skid and joined Mapua University at No. 5 with an identical 7-8 slate.

Graduating forward Bulanadi shot 11-of-23 from the field to go with seven rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes of play while fellow veteran RK Ilagan tallied 11 markers and three boards.

Alvin Capobres added nine points even as Calahat, JM Calma and Ken Villapando chipped in seven markers apiece in the thrilling win.

San Sebastian erased a 19-point disadvantage behind Bulanadi’s hot hands and eventually stole the lead, 55-53, early in the final frame.

It was a nip-and-tuck battle from there, with the game tied at 71-all on Lyceum guard Jaycee Marcelino’s free throws with 21.6 seconds remaining.

Bulanadi and Calahat then joined hands to execute the game-winning play for the Stags.

Marcelino’s 21 points and Cameroonian big man Mike Nzeusseu’s 16-marker, 12-rebound double-double went down the drain as Final Four-bound Lyceum squandered its first chance to lock in a twice-to-beat edge.

The No. 2 Pirates sank to their fourth loss against 12 wins and also saw their six-win streak end.

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