EARNING the tag as a giant-killer is an accomplishment, but Lyceum also wants to be known as a team that can beat squads in the middle of the pack of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The Pirates classify Emilio Aguinaldo College in such group and they hope to fare well against the Generals when the two teams collide on Friday at The Arena in San Juan.
They may be the only non-Final Four squad to beat all semifinalists at least once and one of just three teams to topple eventual champion San Beda in the eliminations last season, but the Pirates seemed to struggle against teams in the same level in Season 89.
This year, they have so far proven they can defeat teams outside the contenders’ circle - for now, dispatching (except for Mapua) Letran, and most recently Jose Rizal University, 84-80, in overtime last Friday.
Now, they take the court at 4 p.m. facing another fellow Final Four aspirant in the Generals.
“Hindi naman siguro dapat giants lang ang pwede naming talunin, so we should also target `yung mga ka-level namin para maging consistent,” Pirates coach Bonnie Tan said.
Lyceum is currently above the .500 mark with a 3-2 slate and a victory against EAC will match its best start since joining the country’s oldest collegiate league three years ago.
Joseph Gabayni, named the league’s Player of the Week, fellow rookie Jebb Bulawan, and Cameroonian forward Guy Mbida banner a Pirates frontline that will figure out how to minimize the Generals’ own Cameroonian slotman in Cedric Happi.
Dexter Zamora spearheads the Pirates’ backcourt, but Shane Ko remains questionable after picking up a foot infection before the game against JRU.
Earlier, College of St. Benilde tries to ride the momentum of its first win as it takes on hapless Mapua at 2 p.m.
The Blazers barged into the win column after four starts with an 85-71 win over Letran, which left the Cardinals as the only winless team in the league with a 0-5 win-loss card.