SAN Beda tries to avoid an early upset this time as it tangles with Lyceum on Wednesday for the solo lead in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The defending champions face a familiar foe in the Pirates, who dealt them a stunning 66-70 setback in just their second game of the elimination round last season.
But one year later, the Pirates are well aware they remain the underdogs in the 2 p.m. affair.
“First game lang kasi (nila last year), so sabihin nating nabulag, nabigla lang siguro sila,” Pirates coach Bonnie Tan admitted. “So sinasabi ng marami na mission impossible.”
“Pero hindi natin masabi,” Tan was quick to add. “Sana mapagtrabahuhan namin ng maayos rin; magkaroon ng magic.”
But coming off two straight victories, the latest an 89-55 thrashing of Mapua, the Red Lions are expected to come in better prepared for their upset-conscious opponents.
Still, the Lions are careful not to underestimate the Pirates, one of only three teams to beat the Red Lions in the regular season last year.
“Lyceum is a very dangerous team,” Lions coach Boyet Fernandez said.
The Pirates also gained a huge boost with Cameroonian forward Guy Mbida making his debut in their 74-70 victory over Letran after missing out in their first game due to a disagreement with the school.
“They have Mbida back, so we have to be ready,” said Fernandez, who draws strength from his own foreign standout in Ola Adeogun as well as local stars Baser Amer, Art dela Cruz, and Anthony Semerad.
Letran and Mapua hope to finally register in the win column as they collide in the second game at 4 o’clock.