Pirates' challenge to rest of NCAA 95: Catch us if you can
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jul 11, 2019 06:00 PM
LPU has all the talent in the world to run its opponents out of the gym
Lyceum of the Philippines University, even without CJ Perez and MJ Ayaay, looked like the running and gunning Pirates of old at the start of the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament.
Trailing fellow contender Colegio de San Juan de Letran late in their season-opener last Sunday, the Pirates unleashed the Marcelino twins, Jaycee and Jayvee.
And, as always, that fast and furious backcourt did damage on both ends.
For them, they were only answering the call of head coach Topex Robinson. "Sabi kasi sa amin ni coach, tayo na pinakamaliit so kailangang magdoble-effort para makuha yung panalo," Jayvee said.
Jaycee only shared the same sentiment. "Paulit-ulit talaga naming sinasabi sa sarili namin na wag tayo susuko. Malaki sila so kailangan, mag-step up kaming lahat," he said.
Indeed, coach Topex, a defensive-stopper himself in his playing days, has one and only one challenge for his wards - prove that height is not might. "Sabi ko sa kanila coming into the game, we have two choices, it's either we lose by just being the smallest team or we win by being the smallest team. The choice is ours," he shared.
He then continued, "We might be the smallest, but what we also have is the quickest team in the league right now. We're focusing all our energy on being the smallest, but quickest team in the league and we're hoping the other teams won't catch up on our quickness."
Of course, facing off against the big, bad Knights - with 6-foot-7 Larry Muyang, 6-foot-6 Paolo Javillonar, 6-foot-5 Jeo Ambohot, 6-foot-5 Christian Balagasay, and 6-foot-4 Ato Ular - will pose a problem for just about anybody.
That was even more so for LPU, however, as in their showdown, their tallest players were Jayson David and Rhanzelle Yong, both standing at 6-foot-4.
It didn't help either that 6-foot-6 Cameroonian power Mike Nzeusseu was also out due to a hand injury. "Dun pa lang sa parade (nung opening ceremony), grabe na nakita namin e. Kami lang maliit kasi nga wala si Mike," Jaycee said.
Still, all of that didn't matter as, in the end, victory went to the "smallest, but quickest" Pirates.
And if all goes according to plan throughout the rest of the tournament, then there just may not be sinking them out of contention.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.