THREE present and former NCAA coaches believe the deciding Game Three of the men’s basketball Finals between archrivals San Beda and Letran on Friday will ultimately be decided by four factors: momentum, hunger, execution, and experience.
Mapua coach Chito Victolero, whose Cardinals fell short of a Final Four berth, believes Letran has a great chance to win its first title in seven years if they would be able to duplicate their masterful performance in the 64-55 Game Two victory last Saturday.
“If they do what they did in Game Two, which was to pressure San Beda’s execution on offense and defense, and the bench scoring of (Carlo) Lituania and their big men remain consistent, plus the passion and hungrier factor, they can win it.”
Victolero said the Knights are in the perfect situation to grab the coveted championship. “I think Letran will win it because the momentum is on their side and they are peaking at the right time.”
Arellano coach Koy Banal is no stranger to championships, having led the Red Lions’ to the 2006 title, which sparked their dynastic rule in the last six years.
So he knows the Lions’ vast experience will definitely come in handy in the pivotal rubber match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“You can’t take away the championship (experience) of San Beda. They have been in the finals for seven consecutive years and coach Ronnie (Magsanoc) has been there and done that as a player and as a coach,” said Banal, whose rookie-laden Chiefs ended up with a 6-12 record this year.
He may not say it directly, but Banal believes that the Knights’ hunger will spell the biggest difference.
“It will only depend on the team that is hungrier, and the last time Letran made it to the Finals was in 2007.”
But there’s still a Lion inside him that will be silently rooting for San Beda.
“I hope San Beda will still show their composure in Game Three especially down the stretch. And of course, I’m still cheering for SBC being my former school and team, and for my friend, coach Ronnie.”
While Banal is all about the intangibles, former San Sebastian coach Topex Robinson is not discounting the X’s and O’s.
“I would say the team that would execute better will win that game. It’s going to boil down to sticking to their game plan because college players tend to be a little overexcited,” said Robinson, who abruptly resigned as the Stags mentor in August to focus on being an Alaska Aces assistant in the pros.
“So the key is being disciplined,” added Robinson, who was swept in two games by Frankie Lim’s Lions in last year’s edition of the Finals.