Zark’s Burger-Lyceum’s hopes rest on shoulders of CJ Perez and the reigning NCAA MVP led his side to a gutsy 104-95 victory over Centro Escolar University to remain fighting in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup quarterfinals Tuesday at Pasig Sports Center.
The hardworking forward uncorked 11 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter ru n which turned an 88-90 deficit to a 99-92 lead for the Jawbreakers with 1:41 remaining, before Spencer Pretta and Mike Nzeusseu put on the finishing touches in the win.
Perez also grabbed five rebounds, dished out five assists, and swiped the ball twice to help Zark’s-Lyceum force a winner-take-all Game 2 affair on Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena.
“If CJ missed those shots, we might’ve lost the game, but that’s CJ for us. He’s gonna win games, he’s gonna lose games, but today, he was on his rhythm and they really wanted to win,” said coach Topex Robinson.
Nzeusseu topped the Jawbreakers with 28 markers, 12 boards, and two blocks, Jaycee Marcelino chimed in 16 points and six rebounds, and twin Jayvee got 11 markers, four dimes, and three boards in the triumph.
The Jawbreakers survived the game despite squandering an 18-point lead, 49-31 lead in the first half.
Despite the win, Robinson remained wary of the three-seed CEU heading into the do-or-die tussle.
“We know that they’re gonna bounce back. We know they’re champions and they have the experience. There’s no reason for us to celebrate. We’ll make adjustments for Thursday,” he said.
Rod Ebondo fired 32 points and 25 rebounds in his first game since suffering a back injury to lead the fight for CEU.
Judel Fuentes chimed in 14 markers, while Art Aquino had 12 in the loss.
ZARK’S BURGER-LYCEUM 104 — Nzeusseu 28, Perez 26, Jc. Marcelino 16, Jv. Marcelino 11, Ayaay 10, Ibañez 5, Caduyac 3, Tansingco 3, Pretta 2, Cinco 0, Serrano 0.
CEU 95 — Ebondo 32, Fuentes 14, Aquino 12, Manlangit 9, Chan 7, Wamar 7, Cruz 6, Arim 5, Caballero 3, Guinitaran 0, Intic 0, Saber 0, Veron 0.
Quarters: 32-21, 62-55, 75-79, 104-95.