Filling up the void left by starting center Donald Tankoua won’t be an easy task for San Beda.
The Red Lions, however, are confident they can still thrive without Tankoua by doing the job by committee starting on Tuesday when they take on the dangerous San Sebastian Golden Stags in the resumption of the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan.
Still setting the pace in the 10-team field with a 10-1 mark, San Beda will come into its 12 noon showdown with San Sebastian anxious since Tankoua has been ruled out with an ACL tear on his right knee. The the 6-foot-7 Cameroonian, whom second-year coach Jamike Jarin considers as “our best big man, sustained the injury in the Red Lions’ 90-82 win over Emilio Aguinaldo College last Friday.
With San Sebastian riding high on a morale-boosting 71-55 win over erstwhile streaking title contender Perpetual Help last week that snapped its nine-game losing streak, Jarin can’t help but be more cautious.
“San Sebastian will come in with a lot of confidence especially with how they played against Perpetual. Of course, they know we lost our best big man in Donald. They’re gonna come in thinking they have the advantage right now with Donald out,” he told FOX Sports in a phone interview on the eve of their rematch.
The Red Lions are eyeing to repeat over the Golden Stags following an 87-77 victory in their initial meeting last August 5 where Tankoua pumped in 20 points.
Jarin, however, is confident he still has ample tools left to help overcome the absence of their import, who’s averaging 15.7 points built around a sizzling 57 percent shooting from the field on top of a team-leading 10.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
“The immediate plan is to accept the fact we lost him. But one good thing on how we run things is we have been giving all our players the needed exposure. I’ve been criticized with that but that’s the way we run our philosophy. We’re not starting from zero actually. To compensate the loss of Donald, its going to be collective effort,” he stressed.
Foremost among those expected to step up in Tankoua’s absence is promising big man Ben Adamos, who tallied 11 big points and four rebounds against the Generals.
San Beda skipper Dan Sara added the loss of Tankoua could stoke the fire under the Red Lions’ belly.
“We are sad of what happened but we are not worried,” he stressed in an SMS message to FOX Sports. “With that happened to Dony, we’re more motivated with to reach our goal. And as the leader of the team. I just need to regroup them.”
While their Final Four hopes are flickering, the Golden Stags should pose big threat to the Red Lions and their first-year mentor Egay Macaraya intends to make the most of their remaining games.
“Every game is a learning experience para sa team na ito dahil bago ito. Hopefully lahat ng players ko maka-focus sa lahat ng games. We need to know how to win. We don’t have to relax,” he stressed.
Wingman Alvin Capobres, who tallied a team-high 13 points against the Altas, can’t wait to help the Golden Stags earn a fitting follow-up win.
“Mas motivated kami sa next game lalo na ngayon na nasira na losing streak namin,” he stressed. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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