MANILA, Philippines – So far in NCAA Season 93, no team has managed to bring down the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates.
Not even defending champion San Beda College, with its own superb roster of Red Lions, could dent Lyceum's record. The Pirates outlasted the Red Lions in an absolute double-overtime classic, 107-105, last Thursday to complete an 18-game sweep of the elimination round, and barge straight to the Finals.
Their historic achievement – the best elimination round campaign in league history – afford Lyceum plenty of time before they see action again. After all, the No. 4 spot in the semifinals has yet to be decided, with Colegio de SanJuan de Letran and San Sebastian College waging war on Tuesday to determine who gets to take it.
After that, there will still be the stepladder semifinals. In all, Lyceum will have more than a two-week break before they play in the Finals.
Make no mistake, however: the Pirates will not be taking a vacation. As center Mike Nzeusseu said, the next two weeks would be spent on "work, work, work, work, work."
"We will continue to improve and try to get better," affirmed Lyceum coach Topex Robinson, whose free-flowing offense and aggressive defense has proven to be a puzzle that no NCAA team can solve this year.
With this in mind, Robinson revealed that he is planning to call on another unbeaten program – the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles – in an effort to help his team get better.
The Blue Eagles have compiled a 10-0 record in the UAAP Season 80 tournament, and have already clinched a Final 4 spot.
"I'm already knocking on Coach Tab (Baldwin's) practice, just to look at what they're doing," admitted Robinson. "I want to learn from him."
"I'm a young coach still, and my cup is empty. I'm still looking for opportunities to grow. Watching Ateneo play is really inspiring me also," he adds. "So more basketball for these guys, more time to be together and build this bond."
While both are unbeaten in their respective leagues, Lyceum and Ateneo could not be more different in terms of their style of play. Lyceum prefers a fast-paced game, with players like CJ Perez and twins Jaycee and Jayvee Marcelino running at every possible opportunity. In contrast, Ateneo plays at the slowest pace in the UAAP, and prides itself on its execution in the half court.
Still, Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin said he will very much welcome Robinson if he does indeed ask to observe the Blue Eagles. In fact, the mentor sees it as an opportunity for mutual learning.
"He plays a style of basketball that we struggle with sometimes, that high-intensity pressure," Baldwin told Tiebreaker Times. "I think there is a lot that I can learn from him."
"I would like to have a deeper relationship with him, because he is an outstanding coach, and he's done a great job with that team," he added.
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