Gunning for a return trip to the medal round of NCAA Season 94 are the San Sebastian Stags, Lyceum Pirates and defending champions San Beda Red Lions.
The NCAA opened its 2018-2019 last Saturday, with the 10 member schools slugging it out once again for the prestigious Men’s Basketball championship.
In the last part of our NCAA Preview series, FOX Sports Philippines forecasts players from San Sebastian, Lyceum and San Beda who are bound for a breakout season.
SAN SEBASTIAN COLLEGE-RECOLETOS GOLDEN STAGS
Last season, the Stags caught the last seat of the Final Four bus with a 9-9 win-loss card. Tied with Letran and Arellano with the same record, the Stags gained the upperhand via quotient and a victory over the Knights in a one-game playoff. The Egay Macaraya-mentored squad then survived another knockout match against the third-seeded JRU Heavy Bombers. Facing a twice-to-win disadvantage, the Stags were eventually eliminated from title contention by second-seed and eventual Season 93 champions San Beda.
Tasked to lead the Stags’ charge once again is Michael Calisaan, who emerged as the team’s top scorer and rebounder last season. The 6-foot-4 wingman tallied 15.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game for the Recto-based squad in Season 93. The NCAA and PBA D-League veteran is expected to churn out with an improved showing this year for the upstart Stags squad.
LYCEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES UNIVERSITY PIRATES
It was “so near, yet so far” for the Pirates last season. After achieving a rare 18-0 elimination round sweep, the Intramuros-based squad was penciled to claim their first-ever NCAA crown – in just their third year as a full-fledged member school of the country’s oldest collegiate league. Coach Topex Robinson and his Pirates waited for a worthy challenger to emerge from the stepladder playoff phase, which included San Sebastian, JRU, and San Beda. When the dust settled, it was San Beda who came out to dispute the Season 93 Seniors crown against the undefeated Pirates. However, the resolute Red Lions devoured the inexperienced Pirates in the championship round. A 2-0 sweep of the Finals by the Red Cubs ended Lyceum’s magical run in 2017.
Lyceum parades an almost intact lineup for Season 94. CJ Perez, the Season 93 Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Mythical Team member, will be at the forefront for the Pirates’ resurgence. Last year, the “Baby Beast” registered league-best 19.3 points per game, along with 6.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per outing.
SAN BEDA UNIVERSITY RED LIONS
The Boyet Fernandez-mentored squad avenged their only two losses dealt by Lyceum from the elimination round, where they finished with a 16-2 record. After disposing of San Sebastian in the stepladder semifinals, San Beda marched on to their 12th consecutive Finals appearance. The Red Lions eventually snared title number 22 via sweep over the erstwhile unbeaten Pirates.
With his scintillating performance in last year’s Finals, Robert Bolick will surely be called upon to take charge for the Red and White side, especially in endgame situations. Bolick, the 2017 Collegiate Player of the Year, averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and league-best 5.3 assists per game in Season 93. In his final playing year, the pride of Leyte will be aiming for a fitting collegiate send-off and a third straight NCAA championship for San Beda.