ARE Lyceum and San Sebastian worthy challengers in San Beda's title defense in NCAA Season 93?
San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez sure thinks so as he has the two teams in his mind when the Red Lions go up against UAAP runner-up Ateneo in their final game before they head to the Filoil preseason playoffs.
The Pirates and the Stags missed the Final Four last year in the NCAA, but both teams are right on top of the Filoil preseason standings and have even secured a place in the quarterfinal round of the competition.
"It's going to be a tough season for us," said Fernandez, who also described San Sebastian as a 'revelation.'
Fernandez is using San Beda's Filoil match against Ateneo on Friday as a gauge on where they are on defense, especially with LPU and San Sebastian showing much-improved offensive schemes in the preseason.
Fernandez said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin runs a lot of plays for the Blue Eagles, which is a good preparation for the Red Lions against emerging NCAA teams like the Pirates and the Stags.
"Knowing coach Tab, it's more of us knowing our system kung saan kami nagkakamali kasi if you look at coach Tab, maraming plays," Fernandez said. "I really have to check kung tama na 'yung defensive scheme namin in terms of flair screens, 'yun 'yung mga dapat namin i-check. Kailangan namin i-polish 'yung defensive schemes."
"Because if you are going to play LPU, they are the highest scoring team in the league. San Sebastian is dribble drive. Magiging mahirap sila kalaban sa NCAA... That is why I love playing in the Filoil kasi doon kami natututo as a team," he added.
Even though the he is focused on Group A where the Red Lions are bracketed, Fernandez said he is also monitoring the other bunch in preparation for the playoffs including UAAP squad University of the Philippines, which made it to the quarterfinals after beating National University on Wednesday.
"I've been watching the games of the other group. The revelation is San Sebastian. UP, without (Paul) Desiderio and (Diego) Dario really played well against NU with a complete line-up. It's going to be a tough pairing for us," said Fernandez.