THE road to respectability doesn't get any easier for the Pirates.
A Lyceum side that’s oozing with confidence after pulling off the biggest upset so far in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament tries to sustain its hot start on Saturday when it takes on Arellano at The Arena in San Juan.
Fresh from a shocking 70-66 victory over three-time defending champion San Beda, the Pirates return to action at 4 p.m., against a Chiefs squad that is out to bounce back from a close 78-76 defeat they suffered at the hands of San Sebastian.
The Pirates’ stunning win against the Lions was a huge way to start the season after finishing dead-last among the 10 teams in Season 88 that saw them won just three of their 18 assignments.
But they are set to face another formidable team in the Chiefs, who were tagged in the preseason as title contenders following an impressive run in the summer.
Still, the Intramuros-based squad remains upbeat as it aims to surpass its seven-win total two seasons ago when it first joined the league.
“Hindi naman siguro nakaka-pressure yun kasi nangyari na before,” Pirates coach Bonnie Tan said. “Yun `yung modest goal namin na sa tingin namin achievable naman basta magtiwala lang na kakayanin.”
“(At) kung gusto natin ma-prove sa sarili natin, maybe we can prove it sa mga big teams. Dun tayo dapat magpakita,” added Tan, a champion coach in the Interscholastic Athletic Association.
Pirates star Shane Ko, who shone brightest against the Lions with 23 points, six rebounds, and three assists, echoed his coach’s sentiment.
“Sana nga ito na ang simula kasi tingin nila sa amin sobrang kulelat lang kami. Hindi nila kami sineseryoso. Pero ngayon napatunayan na namin na kayang naming manalo sa malalaking teams.”
The Pirates are expected to face stiff opposition from Arellano stalwarts James Forrester and Nard Pinto. The Chiefs main men combined for just 16 points on a woeful 4-of-27 shooting from the field against the Stags.
Pinto also committed seven turnovers.
Letran seeks a second successive win as it collides with Emilio Aguinaldo College in the second game of the double-header at 6 pm.
Behind slotman Raymond Almazan, the Knights nipped San Sebastian, 74-69, on opening day last week, while the Generals faltered in their debut behind a 49-69 loss to University of Perpetual Help.