Up against San Sebastian College, his alma mater and former team, Lyceum coach Topex Robinson expects a tough grind for the Pirates who are seeking their third straight victory against the Golden Stags on Tuesday in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan City.
Tied from sixth to seventh spots with struggling Jose Rizal U with similar 2-3 records, Lyceum will come to their 2 o’clock battle with San Sebastian College (1-4) as the odds-on favorites, having won its last two matches in contrasting style behind the exploits of import Mike Nzeusseu and surprising rookie Adrian Alban.
The Pirates pulled the rug from under the Heavy Bombers 69-66 last July 15 then followed it up with an impressive 75-58 win over the
St. Benilde Blazers six days later, giving Robinson big hopes that they could really contend for a Final Four spot.
In contrast, the Golden Stags have yet to find their true identity under first-year coach Egay Macaraya, dropping their last four matches after winning their opener over the Blazers 54-49.
Robinson, who twice called the shots for the Golden Stags—the last in 2014—and even led them to a finals stint in 2011, already has an inkling on what awaits the Pirates.
“It’s gonna be a tough game because they’re gonna bounce back,” he said. “There’s a (winning) tradition there and I know coach Egay has always been hard on his players and he’s going to bring out the best in them.”
Robinson seemed to have done exactly that on the Pirates, notably Alban.
A proud Tondo native, Alban has been the biggest revelation for the Pirates so far, having led their offensive attack with averages of 20.0 points on a sizzling 75 precent shooting from the field on top of 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in their victories.
Alban might have just been scratching the surface of his true potential, with the help of Robinson. “Sabi ni coach ‘Huwag ako makuntento sa isang laro at sa practice ‘wag magre-relax para magtuluy-tuloy ang ganitong game,” he said.
Not to be outdone was the 6-foot-6 Nzeussue, who’s been a dominant force down low with averages of 19.5 points, 21.5 rebounds and 1.0 block.
While veterans Michael Calisaan, Jerrick Fabian and Ryan Costelo continue to grope for form, unheralded Regille Ilagan and Justine Mercado have been leading the way for the Golden Stags and they could do the same against the Pirates. – By Jerome Lagunzad