LYCEUM seeks to sustain its rise in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament when it tangles with struggling University of Perpetual Help on Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Pirates have been playing splendid basketball of late, compiling three straight wins and four overall against two losses - a run that has put them in an unfamiliar position of third spot.
Their record has also matched their best start since joining the country’s oldest collegiate league three years ago.
Now, the Pirates hope to surpass it, but are bracing for a tough test at 2 p.m. against the Altas, who are eager to regain their bearings after having been on a tailspin by losing twice in a row, the latest an 85-97 decision at the hands of Arellano last Saturday.
Still, the Altas, who are running a spot below the Pirates with a 3-2 win-loss mark, are regarded as the biggest threat to San Beda’s throne.
“I admire the way they rotate the ball, ibang klase,” Pirates coach Bonnie Tan said of the Aric del Rosario-mentored Altas “Pinagyayabang ko nga sa team ko 'yan eh na panoorin kung paano sila mag-execute ng transition offense.”
To defeat them, the Pirates look to tear a page off the playbook of the Altas, who are one of the league-leaders in assists and bannered by the prolific trio of Earl Thompson, Harold Arboleda, and Juneric Baloria.
“It’s a big challenge na yung pinapatingin ko sa mga players ko na team ay malabanan nila, ma-match nila sa game,” said Tan, who draws strength from rookie big men Joseph Gabayni and Jeb Bulawan, Cameroonian workhorse Guy Mbida, and spitfire guard Dexter Zamora.
Promising wingman Wilson Baltazar has also recovered from a shooting slump and has even shown improved defense, while guard Shane Ko is nearing a return from a foot infection that has sidelined him the past two games.
In the second game, Letran and Emilio Aguinaldo College, tied near the bottom with 1-4 records, hope to get out of their misery as they face off at 4 p.m.