Ayaay, Pirates look at NCAA Finals run as lesson learned
The 93rd season of the NCAA almost became the year Lyceum finally rose as one of collegiate basketball’s elite programs.
After an 18-0 sweep of the eliminations, hype surrounded Lyceum but in the two games of the Finals the Pirates faltered against 21-time champion San Beda.
All the ballyhoo came crashing to the depths of history when the Red Lions mauled the Pirates, 92-82, in the title-clincher Thursday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Although the loss was a gut-wrencher, wingman MJ Ayaay said it wasn’t the end of the Pirates.
“This loss doesn’t mean that the whole world came crashing down on us,” said Ayaay in Filipino. “I told my teammates that whatever happens we’re brothers.”
“Win the championship or not, we’re still a family, we’re still brothers.”
Ayaay added they hoped they would learn from their first trip to the Finals as they look forward to Season 94.
“The past two years for us were really a struggle,” said Ayaay of the Pirates who won a combined 10 games in Seasons 92 and 91. “I never expected that we would be in the Finals, maybe just the Final Four. I hope we would learn from this loss.”
And the familial bonds Ayaay talked about came in full display when the Pirates huddled up in Topex Robinson’s final timeout with 22.5 seconds left.
The Pirates gathered together as Robinson reminded them to be gracious in defeat and that they would congratulate San Beda for winning the title.