IMAGINE life without cellphones and away from the family for a long time.
The Lyceum Pirates just did that.
Putting the team above everything else, the Pirates were rewarded by pulling off the biggest upset in the young season of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, toppling defending champion San Beda, 70-66, on Monday at The Arena in San Juan.
Shane Ko shone brightest with 23 points, none more important than the last two from the foul line that preserved the victory for the Pirates after the Red Lions erased a late double-digit deficit to come within two points.
It was a deserving win for the Pirates, who prepared for the season by staying together in a house near the Intramuros-based school along with the coaching staff for the past few weeks.
And among the strict house rules implemented was no cellphones were allowed every night before the game.
“Sobrang sarap ng feeling,” Ko, the unflappable playmaker, said. “Nag pay off `yung hard work tska `yung disiplina at sacrifices namin.”
The stunning win, the Pirates’ first against the Lions since joining the league two years ago, also exposed the vulnerability of the three-time reigning champions, who barely beat host College of St. Benilde on opening day, 71-70.
Coming off the close win, the Lions were expected to show their wrath against the Pirates, who finished dead last in Season 88 after compiling only three wins in 18 games.
But Lyceum came in its debut game carrying with a winning mindset.
“Yun talaga nasa isip namin, na makaka-upset kami,” said Ko, who honed his skills in the offseason in the PBA D-League with EA Regen.
The four-peat-title-seeking Lions, who survived the Blazers thanks to a last-second alley-oop play completed by Art dela Cruz, were poised to pull off another escape act as they erased a 15-point fourth-quarter lead.
Ko, however, buried two crucial charities to complete the upset.
“Wala na akong masasabi sa kanya. He proved himself as a leader for our team,” Pirates coach Bonnie Tan said.
Lyceum (70) -- Ko 23, Zamora 9, Taladua 7, Azores 6, Mendoza 6, Baltazar 6, Mbomiko 6, Ambohot 4, Francisco 3, Evangelista 0, Alanes 0, Garcia 0, Lesmoras 0
San Beda (66) -- Amer 18, Adeogun 11, Abarcar 9, Koga 8, Dela Cruz 8, A. Semerad 5, D. Semerad 3, Dela Rosa 2, Villaruz 2, Mendoza 0, Pascual 0, Ludovice 0
Quarterscores: 18-22; 35-28; 56-48; 70-66.