Lyceum of the Philippines University went undefeated all throughout the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 93 until San Beda College dealt the top seed its first loss in the worst time possible.
The Pirates bowed down to the Robert Bolick-led Red Lions, 87-94, in Game 1 of their best-of-three finals faceoff on Friday at the packed Araneta Coliseum.
But Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson, whose wards swept the 18-game eliminations for an outright berth to the championship round, sees their first defeat as a motivation.
“We’re in a position now to really inspire others. It (loss) is not going to change our vision. It’s not just because we lost this game, we’re going to forget why we’re here for,” said Robinson.
The 37-year old mentor owned up to the defeat. “I made some bad decisions, bad coaching.”
Robinson though cannot help but admit that San Beda, which is raring to extend its dominance of the league by winning its 10th title in 12 years and 21st overall in its history, was the better team in their third encounter this season.
“San Beda really played well. They really are the champions. They were really at it. They were more aggressive going to the basket, going for those 50-50 balls,” said Robinson.
Indeed, the Boyet Fernandez-mentored squad came out superior as it outworked Lyceum in rebounding, 51-35, and dishing out assists, 16-12, and showed its championship poise down the crucial stretch, erasing a 12-point deficit.
King Pirate CJ Perez, who was given the Most Valuable Player award prior to the game, shared the same sentiment with his longtime coach.
“We have to improve our performance. Like what coach said, they (San Beda) were the greater team in that game,” said Perez, who notched a game-high 25 points on top of eight rebounds and two assists.
Although the athletic forward got ample support from Mythical Team member Mike Nzeusseu, who contributed 14 points and eight rebounds, their fellow Pirates had subpar performances—noticeably the Marcelino twins.
Jaycee, who bagged the Rookie of the Year plum, and Jayvee Marcelino have had a measly combined output of 14 points, two rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes of action.
“Jaycee and Jayvee are new to this kind of environment. I just told them, don’t feel bad because you won us a lot of games. This is not your team. This is our team. We really have to work together,” said Robinson.
Fortunately for the Marcelinos and the rest of the Pirates, they have five days to make the proper adjustments in order to regroup and continue their campaign to capture a maiden NCAA crown.
“It (loss) is not going to define us. What’s going to define us as a team is how we are going to bounce back. The whole community believes in our team. We have to give it back to them by believing in ourselves, said Robinson.”