Pirates, not Lions, in roaring start
There will be no San Beda juggernaut in season 93 of the NCAA basketball tournament.
While the Red Lions remain favored in their quest for a second straight title following an impressive sweep of the Filoil Flying V Preseason championship recently, the Mendiola-based Bedans lost their invincible tag in just their second game last Friday.
The Lyceum Pirates, ninth last season and still to reach even the Final Four since joining the league in 2011, shocked experts by upsetting the Lions, 96-91, to seize the solo lead with their second straight victory.
CJ Perez, a transferee from Ateneo, paced the Pirates with 24 points while Cameroonian Harry Nzeusseu added 18 on top of 13 rebounds. Two others scored in double figures as the Pirates avenged their 96-79 loss to the Lions in the elimination round of the preseason tilt.
The Pirates under coach Topex Robinson actually matched their season-high output in an earlier 96-75 rout of the Jose Rizal U Heavy Bombers where Perez also fired a game-high 22 points.
“Our defense broke down,” said returning SBC coach Boyet Fernandez, adding that the 96 points the Lions gave up was ample proof of this. “We know that Lyceum is a good team. We have to make stops to beat them.”
Lyceum’s feat came on the heels of another interesting twist as the San Sebastian Stags, who gave the Lions a hard time before dropping their season-opening duel, brought down the Arellano Chiefs, the losing finalists last year, 65-56.
Arellano got going earlier with a 91-82 win over Mapua, a Final Four squad last year which bounced back later to nip 2015 champion Letran, 78-75.
Meanwhile, Perpetual Help, the other semifinalist last year, found itself at the bottom of the 10-team field with two losses, the most painful a setback by forfeiture to St. Benilde for showing up with the wrong uniforms. The other loss came from a 68-54 whipping from JRU.
Over in Taipei, the Gilas Pilipinas team of PBA rookies and Cadet players took an expected 90-77 beating from the
Canada 3D Global Sports in their debut in the William Jones Cup Saturday.
The Canadians, beefed up by some US NCAA Division 1 players and NBA D-League veterans, were simply too much for the Filipinos, who were formed only last week with most of them being tapped to use the Jones Cup as training ground for the country’s defense of the Southeast Asian Games basketball title in Kuala Lumpur next month.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes said he was satisfied with the effort of the Filipinos, who sorely missed the PBA stars who sparked the country’s impressive domination of the Southeast Asia Basketball Association Championship recently.
American import Mike Myers created little impact for Gilas but new recruits Kobe Paras and 6-foot-8 Fil-German Christian Standhardinger showed promise and must be given more playing time.
Gilas has a 17-man roster for the event which Mighty Sports won for the country last year with seven imports. Only 12 can be fielded each game and Reyes has to constantly juggle his lineup to give the 10 SEA Games-bound bets in the team enough time to shape up for the coming KL joust.
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