The LPU-Cavite Junior Pirates’ 59-game losing streak has ended!
SAN JUAN City – Lyceum of the Philippines University-Cavite finally put an end to their 59-game losing skid and register the very first win in the school’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) history. The Junior Pirates held firm down the stretch to edge the Immaculate Conception Academy Brigadiers, 59-57, Friday evening (July 25) at the San Juan Arena.
Generoso “Jun” Cecilio delivered the marginal field goal with 52 seconds that shattered a 57-57 deadlock. The Junior Pirates then turned up the defense, highlighted by John Reynhold Menil’s sprint down the court to block the supposed unmolested layup of Mark Lester Castillo with 16 ticks on the clock.
Possession remained with the Brigadiers and Justin Philip Gentile was fouled at the nine-second mark with the opportunity to send the game into overtime. Gentile succumbed to the pressure and missed both free throws and the Junior Pirates collared the defensive rebound to ignite a mad celebration on the court.
Players cried tears of joy as years of frustration came to a close. For a change, the school bus ride back to General Trias, Cavite would be a happy one.
Makki Jamdee Santos powered the win with 14 points, 16 rebounds, three assists and three steals. Cecilio finished with 12.
Junniel Tayomora led all scorers with 20 points but his disqualification on five fouls midway in the final canto greatly affected ICA’s cause. Evan Jim Montilla followed with 12 points coming off the bench as they fell to the bottom of the standings with a 0-5 win-loss card.
The dubious mark began when the Junior Pirates made their debut in 2011. Including their first five games this season, the team was bludgeoned by an average of 58.5 points a game.
The Junior Pirates could only muster 43.3 points while allowing the opposition to rattle off 101.8. The low water mark was a 171-14 setback to the San Beda Red Cubs in the first round of 2012 which was an all-time low for team offense and an all-time high for team defense.
After starting with Physical Education teacher JB Villena followed by two seasons under ex-pro and Lyceum alumni Joey Mente, former Ateneo Blue Eagle guard and television commentator LA Mumar was named as the team’s third head coach and concurrent LPU-Cavite Athletics Director last January. Coach Mumar possessed excellent basketball genes being the son of PBA star Larry and grandson of the legendary Lauro.
Lauro “The Fox” Mumar served the national team many years, including the Third Place finish at the 1954 FIBA World Championships in Brazil before becoming a champion coach and television commentator. His son Larry Mumar also made it to several national teams and played seven PBA seasons from 1975 to 1981 averaging 14.0 points over 231 games.
While the youngest Mumar may not match his father and grandfather’s basketball achievements, fate has brought him to faraway Cavite as he now plays the multiple roles of coach, father figure, counselor and friend to a bunch of teenage boys. Part of the job includes regular travel between his home in Pasig City and the school via the South Luzon Expressway.
“When I applied for the job, I did some research and I asked myself and my wife if I will still continue upon learning that the team has never won a game and loses by margins of 100 points,” he said after the breakthrough win. “I prayed hard and then decided to take the challenge since there is nothing to lose and nowhere to go but up.”
Game heroes Cecilio and Menil are among the eight current Junior Pirates who were part of the original roster in 2011. The others are Kent Richmond Pere, Miguel Amiel Lagman, Alvin Troy Tropicales Jorge Martin Romanes and twin brothers Fernard Jassen and Fernard Jastin Agdon.
All eight have played the entire stretch, save for Jastin and Cecilio who skipped a year each for various reasons. Apparently, enough was enough for this patient and hardy bunch.
“We don’t want Lyceum to be the laughingstock of the NCAA,” said Cecilio. “When teams play us, we are not a bonus anymore and we can compete.”
The team was formed exactly the same academic year that the High School Department began operations in 2011-2012. At that time, there were only two sections each for First and Second Year and being coeducational, the talent pool was quite shallow to say the least.
It is only now that Coach Mumar and his assistants JC Docto and Mike Ferrer have done serious recruiting. Still, most of the new recruits are from Cavite and nearby provinces and are completing their residency requirements to be eligible next season.
For the eight team pioneers, Coach Mumar believes that a win is a fitting reward for their patience through years of heartaches and close calls. The elusive victory will eventually come – in their first five games, the Junior Pirates lost by an average of only 11.3 markers.
“We all never thought of quitting the varsity,” said Menil who made his NCAA debut at the age of 13. “We know the day will come when the school will be proud of us.”
They had several close calls via single-digit losses to the Letran Squires (60-69), Jose Rizal Light Bombers (61-64) and Malayan High School of Science Red Robins (61-63). The only blowouts were against the Arellano University Braves, 59-88, and San Beda Red Cubs – the same team that would usually bamboozle them by over 115 points in their first six meetings could only beat them this time by 25 points, 94-69.
Coach LA Mumar attends to an emotional Mclaude Guadana as they sing the school hymn.
ONLY THE BEGINNING
“We would like to thank God and the support of the Laurel Family,” said Coach Mumar. “I hope this will erase the pain of all those losses but I know we still have a lot of rice to eat.”
Given a three-year program, Coach Mumar would like to see the Junior Pirates to be competitive at first – gone are the days when they had trouble with something as basic as bringing the ball past the half-court line. An improved Junior program will definitely bolster Lyceum’s case for regular membership in the NCAA.
Aside from basketball and physical training, Coach Mumar who is a Christian sees to it that his wards’ spiritual needs are taken care off especially when the losses were piling. Knowing that not all of the players will make it to the next level, he wants to make sure that the boys come out of school as better individuals.
For now, the proverbial monkey has been taken off the Junior Pirates’ collective backs. The NCAA should now give them a second and perhaps even a third look.
How They Scored:
LYCEUM-CAVITE (59) – Santos 14, Cecilio 12, Jungco 11, Menil 10, Bautista 3, Jastin Agdon 3, Guadana 3, Wong 2, Glipo 1, Lagman 0, Pere 0, Jassen Agdon 0.
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION (57) – Tayomora 20, Montilla 12, Gentile 10, Cayabo 7, Castillo 4, Beduria 2, Catusalem 2, Piopongco 0, Cruz 0, Falcon 0, Justan 0.
Period Scores: 15-10, 30-31, 48-49, 59-57.