SAN Sebastian was poised to be one of the contenders for the crown last season.
But a ligang labas controversy involving top sniper RK Ilagan beset those goals, sending the Golden Stags sprawling and finishing last year with just a 6-12 card, good for seventh place.
That's why with San Sebastian once again carrying heightened expectations, coach Egay Macaraya only hopes for one thing.
"I just pray that there will be no more distractions this season," he said.
Older and wiser, Ilagan will be hell-bent to redeem himself this NCAA Season 95 as he and Allyn Bulanadi carry the torch for the Golden Stags.
The 1-2 punch will be the main crutch for the Recto-based dribblers as they enter the year as one of the heavy favorites owing to their stupendous performance in the preseason tourneys.
Macaraya, however, isn't willing to depend solely on Ilagan and Bulanadi.
"I still want more players stepping up, from my rookies and supporting players. It will be nice if everyone contributes in their roles at any given time," he said, looking at veterans Alvin Capobres and JM Calma, as well as holdovers Ken Villapando, Arjan dela Cruz, and Alex Desoyo.
For the veteran mentor, that would be the key for the Golden Stags, all the more that they have dreams of winning the championship this season, a feat that has eluded the school since Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang, and Jimbo Aquino won the cup back in 2009.
"The responsibility isn't solely on the shoulders of RK and Allyn," said Macaraya. "It’s about time we embrace pressure, the responsibility, and the challenge that we can be one of the top teams this season."