NCAA: Lyceum, San Beda be­gin best-of-three fi­nals UN­DER­DOG

Business World - - SPORTS WORLD - By Michael An­gelo S. Murillo Se­nior Re­porter

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.

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