Even with San Beda nearing another title after a Game 1 win, coach Boyet Fernandez refused to shed the underdog tag for his team.
The Red Lions dealt Lyceum its first loss of NCAA Season 93, 94-87, and could wrap up the championship series next Thursday.
“We only won one game and we haven’t won a championship yet. So we’re still the underdog,” said Fernandez. “They beat us twice and they’re still the best. If you total it, they’re 18-1 and we’re 17-2. So they’re still the favorites for this.”
What Fernandez won’t take away from his boys, though, is the way they fought from behind and pulled away the victory.
San Beda saw itself down, 62-45 early in the third quarter before Robert Bolick and Donald Tankoua buckled down to work and got their team back in the game, setting up the close finish in the fourth period.
“I just give credit to my players today. We’re down by more than 12 points and they never gave up,” he said, applauding how hard the Red Lions worked to put the first dent in the Pirates’ armor.
More than anything, Fernandez is glad to show that his boys also have hearts as big as Lyceum’s in this title retention bid.
“People said the heart of LPU is really big, I think the heart of my players are really big as well. So we just matched up on that.”
However, with a chance to sweep the Finals series next Thursday, the multi-titled mentor acknowledged that San Beda must up the ante if it wants to close the series out on Game 2.
“We’re happy to get this one because it’s my boys who really stepped up in this game. But we need more heart and energy and we have to match them. But it’s going to be our composure, especially the championship experience, which we have to bank on until the end.”