Slower pace key to Stags’ NCAA second-round surge, says Egay Macaraya

San Sebastian College’s wins are coming at a time when league leaders like San Beda, Arellano U and Jose Rizal University are creating the much-needed separation from the team standings.

But one can’t take away the smile from Stags coach Egay Macaraya’s face after seeing his wards carve out a 77-69 win over skidding Lyceum for its fourth straight win in the second round.

The Stags hiked their record to 5-9, just good for eighth place at this point in the standings, but Macaraya has a lot to say with SSC’s ability to adjust in the second round.

“We slowed the phase of the game kasi right now, I think we’re much effective if we set, like give it to my ball handler who are good creators also. That’s why na-limit din yung turnovers kasi we slowed the game, yun yung isa sa mga key doon,” explained the Golden Stags.

“I let them understand their role na makapag-set tayo, then we can have a good chance in having a good opportunity.”

With San Sebastian playing controlled basketball, the Stags limited their turnovers to just eight, while their defense forced the Pirates to 23 miscues.

Macaraya also expressed his gratitude to team manager Joseph Dyhengco and the San Sebastian community for sticking with them even after a miserable first round.

“Ang dami naming talo sa first round pro andun pa rin silang lahat. Kaya I’m very thankful doon, siyempre una, kay God, then sa manager namin and sa San Sebastian community,” he said.

Rookie Regille Ilagan, who sparked San Sebastian’s crucial second-quarter attack,

also thanked Macaraya for giving him the confidence to shoot.

“Sinabi lang sa akin ni coach na huwag kong ipilit yung tira, darating din daw. Nung second half, thankful ako kay God kasi na-shoot mga tira ko and naglaro kami as a team,” said Ilagan, who finished with 25 points, spiked by seven triples. – John Chester Fajardo