A NEW chapter begins in San Sebastian’s basketball history as Allan Trinidad formally takes over the coaching reins from Topex Robinson when the Stags take on the Lyceum Pirates in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.
The 59-year-old Trinidad, a longtime assistant coach in the team, hopes to inject life back into the team’s campaign that momentarily got stalled Tuesday following the abrupt resignation of Robinson.
A win over the cellar-dwelling Pirates in the 6 p.m. game will be the right step in that direction as the Stags hope to keep in step with league leader and defending champion San Beda.
Robinson’s resignation came on the heels of the school’s shocking 67-77 defeat at the hands of Emilio Aguinaldo College last Saturday in a game where two of the Stags’ dreaded `Big Three’ came up with sub-par performances.
The stunning upset pulled the Stags down into a tie for second place with Jose Rizal University and University of Perpetual Help at 7-3.
Ronald Pascual, who struggled in the loss to the Generals by shooting a paltry 4-of-21 from the field, refused to be affected by Robinson’s departure, and vowed his team will stay the course in its bid to regain the title it last won in 2009.
“Hindi namin hahayaan ma-down ang team namin sa nangyari,” said Pascual, who was held by the Generals to just 10 points, six below his scoring average.
Trinidad came aboard San Sebastian along with Pascual in 2008, but had been into coaching since 1983 in the defunct Philippine Amateur Basketball League, Metropolitan Basketball Association, and called the shots for Angeles University Foundation for five years.
Calvin Abueva, the league’s reigning MVP, is also expected to bounce back following his nine-point, eight-rebound performance against EAC.
It was the first time Abueva, who averages 19.3 points and 16.5 boards this season, failed to register a double-double in 24 games dating back to the first round of last season.
Ian Sangalang, slowly recovering from a strained left knee injury, was the lone bright spot for the Stags during that loss, leading the team for 24 points and 17 boards.
But the Stags remain heavily favored over the lowly Pirates, who are in the bottom of the 10-team standings with a 2-8 win-loss mark.
In the first game, the spotlight falls on two big men as Letran and Mapua collide at 4 p.m.
The Cardinals, who walloped Arellano, 68-49, last Thursday, will again be riding on the shoulders of veteran center Mike Parala who is on a hot streak.
On the other hand, controversial 6-foot-7 Raymond Almazan, suits up in a Letran uniform for the first time in a long while as the Knights seek to recover from their 43-65 loss to rival San Beda the last time out.
Both Mapua and Letran tote 4-5 (win-loss) slates.