(Editor's note: This is the third of a series of team previews for the NCAA Season 97.)
NCAA preview: Lyceum
WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE? 13-5, 2nd in the eliminations; lost to Letran in stepladder semis
WHO'S BACK? Renzo Navarro, Yancy Remulla, Alvin Baetiong, Jerwyn Guinto
WHO'S NEW? Mclaude Guadana, John Barba, Matt Bravo, Genesis Aviles
With much of the leaders already gone from the Pirates' ship, new coach Gilbert Malabanan is installing a more defensive-minded approach as they move away from their gung-ho fast-paced style that allowed them to be considered as contenders in the past seasons.
"We're not that kind of team na ngayon. No. 1 yung defense na binibigyan namin ng focus. We have talented players pero what if di kami nakaka-basket? Yan ang magiging fallback namin, yung depensa," he said.
Renzo Navarro and Yancy Remulla step into bigger roles this year as they will be counted on to lead a youth-laden squad bannered by Junior Pirate graduates Mclaude Guadana and John Barba, bluechip recruit Matt Bravo, and hungry callups in Genesis Aviles, Carlo Abadeza, and Shawn Umali.
Yet as heavy as the changes are in Lyceum, Malabanan said that the ideals taught by coach Topex Robinson -- the love, serve, care mantra -- are still not thrown by the wayside.
"Ang maganda sa management, binibigyan ako ng freedom sa kung anong gusto kong system na gamitin ng team. And sa akin naman, pag nakita ko yung success ng players, ang pakiramdam ko successful na rin yung coach. Hindi lang ako ang magpapatakbo ng team kaya binibigyan ko rin sila ng responsibility and I want them to help each other," he said.
Of course, saying so won't guarantee the same level of success that the Pirates have had in the last five years.
But Malabanan remains defiant that this unproven crew still has what it takes to place among the contenders and, who knows, make another surprise run to the Finals.
"I'm very confident with my players. Gusto kong mag-focus sila per game bago namin isipin yung Final Four. So very positive naman ako and I'm very confident na masusustain namin yung winning tradition na nasimulan na dito sa Lyceum."
We are now on Quento! Download the app to enjoy more articles and videos from SPIN.ph and other Summit Media websites.