With Rain or Shine star guard Paul Lee watching from the stands, Lyceum rookie Adrian Alban made sure his “mentor” won’t be disappointed.
The 5-foot-10 Alban sustained his offensive brilliance on Thursday night, leading the Pirates to a dominant 75-58 victory over the hapless St. Benilde Blazers in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan City.
Picking up from where he left off during their 69-66 victory over Jose Rizal U last Friday, Alban waxed hot all game long and finished with a game-high of 21 points, making eight of his 10 tries from the field aside from collecting four rebounds and three assists in over 26 efficient minutes of play as Lyceum picked up its second straight win after 3 straight losses to open the season.
Alban, who tallied 19 points, six of them coming in the final canto, in their win over the Heavy Bombers, said he’s just eager to showcase his full potential before Lee, his fellow Tondo native and a one-time UAAP league MVP with University of the East.
“Tinext ko si Kuya Paul Lee na manood siya kaya kailangan hindi masayang ang pagpunta niya dito,” said Alban, 21. “Isa siya sa mga nagmo-motivate sa akin. Nung nag-start ako dito sa Lyceum, lagi niya ako sinasabihan na hard work lang at lagi i-represent ‘yung Tondo (ng maayos).”
And Alban did.
Even Lyceum coach Topex Robinson was full of praise for his overachieving rookie, a transferee from Fatima U in NAASCU.
“He’s just taking advantage of the opportunity,” said Robinson. “I always tell him if he’s not gonna get it, somebody else will. Since he has it now, he has to protect it. That means he’s not going to have any rest day or fell good about himself. That’s my constant reminder to him.”
Alban said he’s trying to put Robinson’s call to his heart.
“Nu’ng let game ko against JRU, tinext agad ako ni coach Topex na ‘wag agar makuntento sa isang magandang laro. Kaya nu’ng break namin, mas hinigitan ko pa ‘yung efforts ko sa practice para magtuluy-tuloy ang laro ko,” Alban concluded.
Chiefly backing up Alban was Pirates’ Cameroonian import Mike Nzeusseu, who bulldozed his way to 15 points and 22 rebounds.
Yankie Haruna came up with a double-double outing of 13 points and 11 rebounds while fellow starter Christian Fajarito added 13 markers in a losing effort for the Blazers, who suffered their sixth straight loss, their worst start since dropping their first 11 games back in 2004. – By Jerome Lagunzad
Lyecum (75) – Alban 21, Nzeusseu 15, Baltazar 13, Alanes 11, Ayaay 6, Caduyac 6, Marata 1, Serafico 1, Magbuhos 1, Malabanan 0, Soliman 0, Soriano 0
St. Benilde (58) – Fajarito 13, Haruna 13, Young 8, Dixon 8, Saavedra 6, Domingo JJ 4, San Juan 2, Pajarillaga 2, Pasamante 2, Castor 0, Domingo JS 0, Belgica 0, Leutcheu 0
Quarterscores: 17-7, 33-23, 59-45, 75-58.