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Lions go wild from deep, eliminate Pirates for NCAA finals return

MANILA, Philippines -- The San Beda University Red Lions rained a barrage of 3-pointers in the second half and blasted the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates, 82-72, to return to the finals in the NCAA Season 99 men’s basketball tournament.

It will be San Beda’s first finals appearance since Season 95.

The Lions found their range and unleashed nine 3-pointers in the final two quarters en route to the victory.

With the two teams trading treys in the third quarter, the Pirates tied the game up at 51.

The Lions then unleashed a 12-0 run built on 3-pointers by Damie Cuntapay, Jacob Cortez and Yukien Andrada to take a 63-51 lead.

It was enough cushion for the Mendiola-based cagers, who were able to turn back comeback attempts by Lyceum.

The closest the Pirates got to was seven points early on in the fourth quarter, following an and-one play by JM Bravo.

Three-pointers by Cortez and Jomel Puno sealed the deal for the Lions.

John Barba and Enoch Valdez tried to rally the Pirates back into the game as San Beda missed some late free throws.

But Lyceum just could not capitalize.

Puno took over late, and his layup gave San Beda an 80-67 lead with 3:50 remaining.

James Payosing led the Red Lions with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He was followed by Puno with 15 markers and 10 boards. 

PBA-bound Enoch Valdez ended his penultimate collegiate game with 28 points and seven rebounds for the Pirates. He also had two steals and a block. 

Bravo had 16 markers and 11 rebounds for Lyceum. 

Waiting for the Lions in the finals are the Mapua Cardinals.

The finals will tip off Wednesday, December 6.

Meanwhile, Lyceum will be facing College of Saint Benilde in the battle for third on December 10.