San Sebastian Stags seek PCCL crown vs Ateneo Blue EaglesBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – The twice-to-beat advantage San Sebastian enjoys over four-time UAAP champion Ateneo in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League in the title playoff doesn’t seem enough for Stags coach Topex Robinson.
After nipping Ateneo in the semifinals, San Sebastian hopes to duplicate the trick in Monday’s Finals with the Stags hoping to become the first NCAA team to rule the nationwide varsity tournament.
Gametime is at 4 p.m. at the FilOil-Flying V Arena in San Juan.
“This kind of tournament is more of a mental game,” said Robinson. “More than the physical toughness, it’s the mental toughness that’s important.”
Robinson said he doesn’t want his Stags to get too confident after their thrilling semifinal triumph over the Eagles, 70-69, where they rallied from 12-points down in the last six minutes last week.
“Hopefully we can come up with the same intensity and aggressiveness against Ateneo,” said Robinson.
San Beda and University of Cebu dispute third place in the opener at 2 p.m.
Ateneo coach Norman Black said the Eagles need to hold up their defense against Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang, two of the Stags’ top trio, to force a winner-take-all showdown this Thursday.
The Stags had to do without Ronald Pascual early in the semifinals after the clutch-shooting veteran tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
“We know San Sebastian will be tough to beat,” said Black. “They’ve just beaten us. We have to do something defensively.”
The Eagles are going for a third straight crown in the tournament only four UAAP teams have ruled since its inception in 2003.
Powered by the trio of Greg Slaughter, Kiefer Ravena and Nico Salva, the Eagles wrapped up their semifinal run by downing back-to-back NCAA champion San Beda, 76-63, last Friday to earn a title crack at the Stags.
Both Ateneo and San Sebastian finished the round-robin Final Four with similar 2-1 records, but the Stags claimed the No. 1 spot, which comes with a twice-to-beat incentive, due to the winner-over-the-other rule.
“We are the defending champions so we really want to win,” said Black. “At the same time, it has been a long season. We’ve been playing since the end of March, so it’s like the light at the end of the tunnel as far this year is concerned.”
Tags: Ateneo Blue Eagles , Basketball , Calvin Abueva , Greg Slaughter , Ian Sangalang , Kiefer Ravena , NCAA , Nico Salva , Norman Black , PCCL , Ronald Pascual , San Sebastian Stags , Sports , Topex Robinson , UAAP