EVEN without Robert Bolick and CJ Perez, who figured prominently in the last two Finals series, the San Beda-Lyceum of the Philippines University rematch remains worth-watching.
The four-peat seeking Red Lions and the title-starved Pirates battle for the solo lead at 4 p.m. today in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
“Everybody’s excited. Other schools and the fans of NCAA are looking forward for this game on Tuesday. For us, it’s a big game also because you know Lyceum is one of the best teams in the league,” said Lions coach Boyet Fernandez.
“The same as any other team, I respect every game that’s why we always prepare for every team. It will not change our attitude,” he said.
“I have high respect for coach Topex (Robinson) and their players like the Marcelino twins (Jaycee and Jayvee). They have (Reymar) Caduyac. Those are the guys we’re gonna prepare hard for the game on Tuesday. It will be a tough one for us again, but hopefully we can continue to bring that defensive mentality today and be consistent about that on Tuesday,” Fernandez concluded.
The spotlight may be on the Lions-Pirates match-up, but there are two other games that are worth watching.
Letran seeks to rebound from a loss to bitter rival San Beda against San Sebastian, which is playing minus suspended coach Egay Macaraya, at 12 noon.
Coming off one of its worst losses in school history, how University of Perpetual Help System Dalta will respond in the aftermath of last weekend’s management decision to let coach Frankie Lim to “take a leave” when it faces Emilio Aguinaldo College in a duel of struggling teams at 2 p.m.
Evan Nelle has prove to be a worthy replacement for Bolick in the backcourt, as the Lions became the lone unbeaten team in the field with a 6-0 card.
Despite the departure of Perez, LPU is looking good as it now sits in second place at 6-1. What’s remarkable was the Pirates were able to fully recover from a shock early season loss to the Generals.
Robinson knows that playing against the league’s most successful men’s basketball program means a lot for LPU to elevate its performance several notches higher.
“It’s a big test for us playing the mighty San Beda. But we are always up to the challenge. I mean, we will just focus on our team. I know they are coming off their best start as usual. But again, we don’t have control on how they will prepare for us. But we have control on how we can prepare. How we gonna play,” said Robinson.
The Pirates lost to the Lions in the two previous championship series and this first round showdown will determine how mature Robinson’s troops are.
“It’s an opportunity for us to play San Beda without CJ. It’s gonna be a great experience. This thing is inevitable. Whether you like it or not, we will gonna face them. There will be lessons to be learned on this game,” said Robinson.