SAN Sebastian hopes for better fortune as host of NCAA on Tour when the Jose Rizal University visit the Stags’ home turf in Manila in lone seniors game on Thursday.
Of the five teams which played on their home court, only the Letran Knights were able to come out with victory and that’s why head coach Egay Macaraya hopes that the dreaded home-game jinx doesn’t come after them next.
“Alam naman natin yung jinx daw doon,” said Macaraya after their 75-73 victory over Emilio Aguinaldo College last Friday to improve to a 4-4 slate. “Sabi nila, isa palang daw ang nanalo sa home court, sana after Letran, kami rin naman,” he added.
The Stags need the backing of their home crowd as they take on the Heavy Bombers minus Michael Calisaan.
The versatile forward will be serving a one-game ban after getting ejected from the game against the Generals for incurring two technical fouls.
The good thing for the Stags is that they have seen players step up in the absence of Calisaan, particularly the returning Renzo Navarro and newcomer JM Calma.
“Para sa akin, yan ang motivation ng team,” Macaraya said of Calisaan’s absence. “Hindi lang naman si Michael yung team. Sa akin lang, mawawalan ako ng Michael but I will always have my extra players willing to do the job.”
Although Jose Rizal University head coach Vergel Meneses knows exactly what Calisaan is capable of doing, the former PBA great understands the dangers of facing a depleted team.
Meneses says he’d rather face a team that is complete than face a squad which has something to rally around for.
“Minsan I don’t want to think about it eh. Yan ang nagiging problema e, minsan sa kulang pa nadidisgrasya,” Meneses said after their 81-53 demolition of College of St. Benilde last Friday. “Mas gusto ko pa minsan na kumpleto talaga ang kalaban,” he added.
The Heavy Bombers enter the match very confident after putting together their first win streak of the season.
Now at 4-3, the Heavy Bombers look to finish a strong third in the first round, They have two more games starting with the Stags.
Meneses has also seen different players step up in lieu of a missing star player.
With Tey Teodoro misfiring the past couple of games, JRU has relied on different players, led by veteran forward Ervin Grospe alongside new names such as Abdul Sawat and Jed Mendoza.
If Teodoro rediscovers his touch and his support cast step up anew, Meneses is confident that they can come out of Recto with a victory.
“It will be a hard game at sa home court pa nila. Alam naman natin kung paano maglaro ang San Sebastian, they’re very physical,” Meneses continued. “We have to be ready for them. We have to be really aggressive.”