THE Red Lions’ cloak of invincibility has a few holes after all.
San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez expressed concern over the performance of the four-time defending champions in their first two games in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The Lions suffered their first defeat on Monday, a stunning 66-70 decision to a relentless Lyceum side that only a season ago finished at the bottom of the league standings.
And if not for Art dela Cruz’s game-winning alley-oop conversion against College of St. Benilde on Saturday, the Lions would’ve been 0-2 (win-loss) right now and at the bottom of the 10-team pile.
“The way we played (the last two games) is really alarming,” Fernandez said after emerging from the dugout over an hour after the stunning loss to Lyceum.
“I’m worried about our execution, the mental status of players, the way they’re thinking.”
It was the first time the Lions went 1-1 to start a season since 2006. The Mendiola-based squad, then coached by Koy Banal, split its first two games that season following a loss to Philippine Christian University before it went on to win the title.
After barely beating the Blazers last weekend, the Lions were expected to go for their first convincing victory of the season against the heavy underdogs Pirates. Instead, the Pirates stole the show.
“It was a wake-up call, but probably they thought invincible na naman sila because they won it (against CSB) even though they had so many turnovers,” Fernandez said.
“LPU really wanted to win that game,” he added. “We really came out flat and one step slower every time. Hindi ko alam kung pagod ang players ko pero hindi reason yun eh.”
The Lions showed signs of life in the endgame when they almost climbed out of a deep 65-50 hole with over seven minutes remaining, cutting the deficit to just two, 68-66, with less than a minute to go.
“Sabi ko sa kanila kung kaya pala nating gumawa ng last two minutes when we’re down, why not at the start of the ballgame pa lang?” Fernandez said.
Star guard Baser Amer, however, missed a potential go-ahead, top-of-the-key three-point try, before Shane Ko sealed the win for the Pirates with two free throws.
Another cause for concern for Fernandez is that Nigerian slotman Ola Adeogun has only been averaging 3.5 rebounds in the past two games.
“Hindi ko lang alam kung ano nangyayari kay Ola. I was really surprised the way he played, but mahaba pa naman ang season. I just have to check it and talk to Ola.”
“It’s probable that I really have to talk to them and ask them what they really want,” Fernandez said.