Lyceum of the Philippines University played in the playoffs for the third year in a row in the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament.
This, after six straight seasons that saw the Pirates well outside the playoff picture.
However, this is the first time in two years that they will not be playing in the Finals.
Colegio de San Juan de Letran made that so after it bested its Intramuros neighbor for a Finals berth opposite San Beda University.
After the third-seeded Knights sunk second-seeded LPU, the latter's head coach Topex Robinson could only think about what could have been - what could have been meaning a them having a twice-to-beat advantage.
"It's something na, hopefully, we did," he said. "Parang nawala yung essence yung being no. 2 eh. You prepared all year long to be in that spot."
This is even truer as, in the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament, second-seeded University of the Philippines has lived to fight another day even after getting routed by University of Sto. Tomas.
Just as Ateneo de Manila University swept the elims in the UAAP, so did San Beda University in the NCAA and that set in motion stepladder playoffs for both leagues.
In the NCAA, three-seed Letran topped four-seed San Sebastian College-Recoletos while in the UAAP, four-seed UST topped three-seed Far Eastern University to move on.
For the next phase of the stepladder, the Knights then bested the Pirates in a knockout bout to bag an NCAA Finals berth opposite San Beda
On the other hand, the UAAP Finals berth opposite Ateneo remains up for grabs even after the Growling Tigers mangled the Fighting Maroons.
That's because in the UAAP, the second-seeded squad has a twice-to-beat advantage for either the Final Four or stepladder playoffs while in the NCAA, the second-seeded squad only has a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four and will have to play without it in case of stepladder playoffs.
Make no mistake, though, LPU only acknowledges that Letran got the better of them. "It's not an excuse. It's not something to cry about," Coach Topex said.
He then continued, "The fact is we lost to a better team and Letran was the better team (last Friday). Nothing to be ashamed about for us."
Nonetheless, the always amiable mentor said he hopes the Grand Old League rethinks its ruling on a playoff incentive for the second-seeded squad during stepladder playoffs.
"I hope they look at it. Baka 'di kami beneficiary, pero sana, magkaroon ng ganung balance kasi you practiced all year long.," he shared. "What's the no. 2 about kung wala rin naman palang advantage. I hope it's something the NCAA looks at."
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