SAN Beda veterans Jake Pascual and Rome dela Rosa insist the Red Lions remain hungry in their quest for a third successive title and sixth over the last seven years in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Pascual, the Red Lions’ skipper, has had a successful collegiate career, having never missed a Finals stint in his five years with the team and winning a hat-trick of titles in the process. He also has a mythical team selection to his name.
But the 23-year-old power forward assured that his motivation to win the title this season has been the same compared to each of the past four years.
“Motivated pa rin kami,” Pascual said after the Lions’ practice at the Meralco gym on the eve of their highly anticipated rubber match against Letran at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We’re still hungry,” Dela Rosa, the most experienced Lion after Pascual, said.
Pascual, a member of the gold-medal winning Sinag Pilipinas team in the last Southeast Asian Games, said he is motivated by his teammates and the San Beda community.
“Motivated ako sa teammates ko and I want to pay back what the community has done for me by ‘repeating the three-peat’ and winning the record 17th championship.”
Dela Rosa, son of former pro Romy, is likewise driven to keep the school's rich championship tradition alive.
“Nasa dugo na namin ang tradition,” the 21-year-old swingman said. “Every year naman all we want is nothing less than a championship.”
But both veterans admit that sustaining their supremacy comes with immense pressure.
“Nandun naman palagi and pressure, it’s how you handle it,” Pascual said. “We just have to trust each other and stay together.”
The pressure seems to be felt more by Dela Rosa, whose 7.7-point scoring average this season is his lowest in his four years with the Lions.
“It’s been a rough year and I haven’t been a factor this series,” said Dela Rosa, who is only averaging four points per game in the Finals. “But I just think positive and expect me to bounce back tomorrow.”