NCAA: Lyceum, San Beda begin best-of-three finals UNDERDOG
WHAT has been a long season of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) hits its last phase as the Lyceum Pirates and San Beda Red Lions commence their best-of-three finals today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Emerged as the two best teams in Season 93 of the country’s longeststanding collegiate league after two-rounds of elimination play and a stepladder semifinals, the undefeated Pirates and defending champions Lions now channel their focus on winning it all and be named champions.
Making its first finals appearance in the NCAA, Lyceum, which joined the league in 2011, has proven itself to be a handful for the competition this year after seemingly finding the right culture and mind-set under coach Topex Robinson.
While they have been challenged here and there in the classification phase, for the most part the Pirates were steadily tough en route to sweeping all their 18 games to book a direct pass to the finals.
CJ Perez has been leading Lyceum with numbers of 19.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game.
Mike Nzeusseu is dropping a double-double of 11.4 ppg and 11.8 rpg to go along with 1.2 bpg while rookie Jaycee Marcelino has been good for 10.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg and 1.4 spg.
Skipper Jasper Ayaay, meanwhile, has been steady for 9.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
As a team, the Pirates are the top offensive team in the league, averaging 90.5 points per game, something the rest of the league has had a hard time controlling, even for San Beda, which is the best on defense this season.
In their two games earlier this season, the Pirates defeated the Lions both times, 96-91, and 107105, in that order.
While it has barged into its 12th straight NCAA finals appearance, San Beda recognizes that unlike the previous years it is coming in as an “underdog” this time around.
Finishing second to Lyceum in the elimination round with a 16-2 record, the Lions had to go through the stepladder semifinals where they were push to the limit by rivals San Sebastian Golden Stags in their one-game knockout match last Tuesday.
While they led from start to finish, the Lions still had to hang tough in the end to hack out the 76-71 win as the Stags just would not go down without a fight.
Javee Mocon had a monster double-double of 23 points and 22 rebounds to go along with five blocks.
Robert Bolick fi nished with 21 points and Donald Tankoua with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
With the way they dominated the tournament in the elimination round, the Pirates have been installed as favorites in the aboutto-begin finals. But they are not getting ahead of themselves and instead focusing on taking it a game at a time.
“I have so much respect for San Beda, for coach Boyet Fernandez. We are excited to play them in the finals and we’re just going to compete and give our all,” said Lyceum coach Robinson.
For San Beda’s Fernandez, he believes the finals is a totally different ball game but he is nonetheless aware that Lyceum is the best this season and they have their work cut out for them.
“I think we can agree that Lyceum is the best team right now. Right now because they have beaten us twice already. So we are the underdogs here but it won’t stop us from going for it and keeping the winning tradition of San Beda,” Mr. Fernandez said.
Game One of the NCAA finals between Lyceum and San Beda begins at 3:30 p.m. and broadcast over ABS-CBN S+A.
THE UNDEFEATED Lyceum Pirates and defending champions San Beda Red Lions begin their NCAA Season 93 best-of-three finals series today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.