San Beda embraces new role as underdog in NCAA Finals against unbeaten Lyceum
San Beda is in unfamiliar territory as underdogs in the NCAA finals vs Lyceum. Warren Salvacion

A LONG, exciting NCAA Season 93 finally enters its climax when Lyceum and San Beda opens its three-game finals on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 

The Red Lions, winners of nine of the past 11 NCAA titles, are expected to have the edge in situations like this one. But even with the wealth of experience on their side, head coach Boyet Fernandez knows that they haven't faced a team like the unbeaten Pirates in their past finals battles. For the first time in a long while, the mighty Red Lions enter as the underdogs.

"Right now, Lyceum is the best team in the league mainly because they beat us twice," Fernandez said. 

"Underdog kami but we'll find a way to win. Let's see each other on Friday and tignan natin kung ano magagawa natin," he added. 

With a renewed philosophy under the tutelage of Topex Robinson, the Pirates blasted through the entire competition, winning all 18 games to make the Red Lions' impressive 16-2 record after the elimination round a mere afterthought. 

Yet even as they are new to the championship stage, the Pirates have proven time and time again that they have the composure to gut out a win whenever they need it. And they’re also aware the 18-0 sweep won’t mean a thing if they fall short of the title.

"My players know that the job isn't done yet," Robinson said. 

"We're happy we got to this point and we'll always be thankful but right now, the end goal is always winning it all in the end. San Beda has the edge in experience and we'll just take what we can in this game," he added. 

Leading the Red Lions are championship tested veterans in JV Mocon and Robert Bolick—two guys who have won titles for the Red Lions in the past. This will set up an explosive duel with the brilliant pair of CJ Perez and MJ Ayaay, who have been nothing short of brilliant this season. 

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Bolick knows exactly what's at stake and he's ready to step up to the challenge.

"Lyceum is a very good team. Iba din pag magagaling na players ang kalaban mo. This time it will be CJ Perez and I'm excited to face him," Bolick said. 

"Tignan nalang natin sa Friday." 

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