MANILA, Philippines – His team may have swept the elimination round of NCAA Season 93, but Lyceum coach Topex Robinson remains convinced that the San Beda Red Lions are the stronger team ahead of their highly anticipated finals showdown.
The Pirates won both of their games against the Red Lions in the elimination round, but did so by an average margin of 3.5 points. Their second round victory, last October 19, was a double-overtime thriller that Lyceum barely won, 107-105.
Robinson anticipates that the defending champions will be raring for revenge when the finals starts on Friday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Tip-off is at 3:30 p.m.
"It's obvious that they're determined to win," said Robinson, who was at the broadcast panel when San Beda defeated San Sebastian, 76-71, last Tuesday, to claim the other Finals spot.
"At the end of the day, they're the stronger team, and they have more experience than us," he added. "Their experience showed against San Sebastian, and we know what we have to face."
Lyceum and San Beda are first and second on both offense and defense, with the Pirates just edging the Red Lions on both counts.
Based on personnel alone, Robinson's argument has merit: San Beda's roster is full of veterans who have finals experience. The Pirates, in contrast, are all making their championship debut on Friday.
Of course, Lyceum is not devoid of talent. Two of the top MVP contenders – Mike Nzeusseu and CJ Perez – are on their teams, and Robinson has put together a line-up that is a perfect fit for the high-octane style that he prefers.
Still, Robinson knows that the Red Lions will come in hungry and motivated, especially after losing both of their elimination round games to the Pirates.
"They're the more experienced team with coach Boyet (Fernandez), and they have a good group of guys that are motivated to show that they are the defending champions," he said.
The Pirates, for their part, are more excited than nervous heading into the finals, according to Robinson. They have kept themselves busy during their three-week lay-off before Game 1, and their coach believes that they are as ready as they can be.
"We know that we've got nothing to lose, and we're happy where we are," he said. "We know we wanted to be in the Finals, and we did everything in the best way that we can."
Besides, Robinson says that even if they fail to win the title, it will not deter them from their goal – inspiring others.
"Of course, we want to be on the winning side," he says. "But win or not, our vision will not stop."
"We'll still do what we have to do, and our dedication will never change. It's really an opportunity for us to inspire others. Hindi magbabago 'yun," he promised.
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