Egay Macaraya moves on from D-League finals loss, shifts focus to NCAA

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Bring back San Sebastian College’s winning tradition.

That’s precisely what veteran coach Egay Macaraya intends to accomplish immediately as he shifts his focus on the Golden Stags’ preparations for the NCAA Season 92 seniors basketball tourney that gets going on June 25 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

After CafeFrance came up short against Phoenix-Far Eastern U in their best-of-five titular showdown for the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup crown last week, Macaraya, 53, admitted he is now more focused on fast-tracking the development of San Sebastian College, which is bidding to make it back to the Final Four after missing the trip for the past two years.

A former Golden Stag himself who helped the school snap a 12-year title drought during the 80s, Macaraya is frank enough to admit success won’t be achieved overnight but he is confident the current pack of the Golden Stags has what it takes to play to their true potential.

“Unang-una dugong Baste ako. Kaya ang gusto ko agad mangyari, maibalik ang winning tradition ng team,” Macaraya told FOX Sports in a phone interview on Tuesday.

The Golden Stags, who last hoisted the coveted title in 2009 under the tutelage of pro league great Ato Agustin, have floundered in the past two years and didn’t even make it to the semifinals stage, amassing just 11 wins from 36 matches in the eliminations.

“It’s just a matter of refocusing their mind and heart. Hindi pwedeng talo lagi and it’s not okay to lose every time. Everybody wants to win now and redeem themselves from the past failures,” Macaraya shared.

Without bull-strong big man Bradwyn Guinto who is now seeing in action in the pro ranks with Mahindra Enforcers, the Golden Stags are expected to play ‘small-ball’ with the presence of top guards Michael Calisaan and Ryan Costelo.

“I don’t have the luxury of playing big but we will play with a lot of pride. We are focusing on improving our running game. If we have a chance to run, we will run and push the ball. We will try to speed up the tempo as much as possible,” stressed Macaraya, who led the Bakers to their breakthrough PBA D-League title in the Foundation Cup last year.

How far the Golden Stags have become since Macaraya took over the coaching reins from Rodney Santos in February will be known when San Sebastian College opens its 2016 FilOil Flying V PreSeason Premier Cup title bid against reigning UAAP men’s cage titlist Far Eastern U on May 4.

“It will be a good testing ground for us,” said Macaraya. “It will be much better than any of our practice game. Mage-gauge na kasi du’n kung nasaan na talaga kami. Matagal-tagal na rin casing gusto manalo ng team. We will take it one game at a time. Basta ang bottomline, we will try to restore the school’s winning tradition.” – By Jerome Lagunzad

Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports