MANILA, Philippines -- Lyceum of the Philippines University saw its streak of back-to-back NCAA finals appearances come to an end in Season 95, with the Pirates bowing to Colegio de San Juan de Letran in their stepladder semifinal last Friday.
Despite a superb game from Jaycee Marcelino, the Pirates could not complete a last-minute comeback and succumbed to the Knights, 92-88. Letran advanced to play San Beda University in the best-of-3 finals, with Game 1 slated for Tuesday.
Lyceum coach Topex Robinson was gracious in defeat, acknowledging that they lost to the better team.
"Letran… really played us well," said Robinson. "They did what they're supposed to do. Congratulations to them, and good luck sa kanila sa finals."
The Pirates erased a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter, and came to within three points with still 24 ticks left off a Marcelino layup, 90-87. But they gave up a clutch bucket to Letran big man Larry Muyang with 18 seconds to go for a 92-87 spread, and could not inch any closer.
Lyceum made the finals in Seasons 93 and 94, each time finishing as runners-up to San Beda, but could not book a third straight trip.
They are set to lose four veterans from their team -- Mike Nzeusseu, Ralph Tansingco, Jeff Santos, and Spencer Pretta -- but Robinson remains optimistic of what's ahead for his squad.
"We're excited for what lies ahead of us," said Robinson. "There are winners and losers in the game of basketball. We're just excited kung ano pa pwede pang mangyari sa amin."
For the coach, what's done is done and it is now time for them to look ahead to Season 96.
"We have an exciting line-up next year," said Robinson, who noted that they have recruited high school stars John Barba and McLaude Guadana from the Junior Pirates.
Barba is set to be named the MVP in the juniors division, and both he and Guadana made the Mythical Five.
"As much as losing sucks, but that’s part of basketball. There’s winners and losers, but what’s important is we keep on doing it the right way," said Robinson.
"We're gonna win games the right way, we’re gonna lose games the right way," he added. "Yun ang importante sa amin kasi it’s something that nobody can take away from us."
"Knowing that we always did our best, that’s how you earn your respect."
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