Already missing the services of big man Joseph Gabayni who’s still on his way to recovery from a motorcycle accident, Lyceum coach Topex Robinson will have to squeeze the best from the Pirates who will be without veteran guard Dexter Zamora anew in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney that gets going this Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 5-foot-10 Zamora saw action for Lyceum in several summer tourneys, including the 2016 FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup, but was surprisingly left out of the Pirates roster for the NCAA wars, with Robinson citing “disciplinary action” as the reason behind.
Without Zamora, who last played in the NCAA back in 2014, the Pirates will try to pin their hopes on the likes of veterans Paul Soliman and Mer Ayaay, who Robinson named as co-captains.
“We’ve decided to go to our younger players and give them a chance,” said the former pro cager who’s con-currently serving as an assistant to Alaska head coach Alex Compton in the pro league.
The absence of the 6-foot-5 Gabayni, who averaged a team-high 11.85 points, 8.54 rebounds and 1.15 assists last year, could haunt the Pirates, starting in their June 26 match against the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals at The Arena in San Juan.
“He will be out until August and we will have to rely more on the other players,” said Robinson. “We’re just thankful his injury is not serious.”
Tipped to help the Pirates’ cause are sharpshooter Wilson Baltazar and Cameroonian rookie big man Mike Harry Nzeusseu, with Shaq Alanes, Edcor Marata, Allyn Malabanan, Johann Rubite and Jebb Bulawan chipping in ample contributions.
After finishing ninth overall with a 4-14 record last year, Robinson said he’s expecting an improved showing from the Pirates.
“We will not shoot for the stars, we’ll just try to better our performance and win as many games as we can,” he concluded. – By Jerome Lagunzad
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports