NCAA opener loss ‘wake-up’ call for San Sebastian, says coachBy Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines – Ian Sangalang towered over everyone else while Calvin Abueva attacked with reckless abandon.
Both ended up with their usual dominating double-doubles and still San Sebastian reeled to Kevin Alas of Letran.
“We lost to a better team. I was just telling my team that on paper, we’re the number one team. No doubt individually but this is a team sport. We have the Big Three but basketball is played by five players,” San Sebastian head coach Topex Robinson told INQUIRER.net Saturday night.
Don’t overreact to first games but for Robinson, it was a concern needed to be addressed as the Knights, behind Alas’ 31-point statement, beat the Stags in the opener of NCAA Season 88 at their kind of frenetic-paced tempo, 80-74.
“The good thing about it is that we learned as early as now. It’s a wake-up call for us that if we’re not going to bring our best, any team that plays as one could easily beat us.”
Abueva muscled his way to 18 points, 17 rebounds while Sangalang easily had 24 points and 14 rebounds. But the Stags drew futile support from their role players.
“That’s it. That’s the bottom line. We could win with those two guys but if we play a good team like Letran, a great team like San Beda, it’s still going to be the same,” said Robinson.
Ronald Pascual returned after suffering from an ACL tear but was still far from his lethal form.
“Ronald is still feeling it. He’s been out for six months that was his first official game. I’ll never abandon him,” Robinson said.
Pascual went scoreless in eight attempts with most, if not all, of the shots he took were jumpers and none of it was an explosive drive to the basket in which he’s more effective.
Worse, he fouled out with still nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“I’m still going to believe in him. I know he’s gonna make his shots and this is a long season. We just have to be better as a team.”
Robinson pulled out early surprises by occasionally playing Abueva at the point guard position.
“We’re trying to look at our options. We might have an advantage on that. It’s a trial and error basis,” Robinson explained.
It produced positive results with Abueva able to get going in the second half but it also resulted to predictable offensive trips.
Abueva, whom his coach described as the team’s best dribbler, did have six assists but also had the same number of turnovers.
Amid the obvious look of disappointment on Robinson’s face, he managed to at least take something good about the opening game loss.
“I’d rather lose tonight and learn than to win and be complacent. It’s part of the journey. You can’t be on top all the time. It’s what makes teams great. You learn from the mistakes.”