STRUGGLED in the series-opener of their best-of-three National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 94 finals series on Tuesday as they played undermanned, the Lyceum Pirates are now turning their attention on Game Two next week with a full complement as they welcome back top man CJ Perez.
Never really got their game going until late in the fourth period, the Pirates were at the mercy of the San Beda Red Lions for much of Game One of their NCAA finals rematch.
The absence of reigning league most valuable player Perez proved to be too hard to overcome for Lyceum as it grappled early in the game to find its collective groove and got buried deep from which it could not recover from.
Perez, the team’s leading scorer and top energy guy, was banned for the series-opener after being ruled by the NCAA in violation of league rules when he applied for the Philippine Basketball Association rookie draft without formally informing the NCAA about it.
League rules stipulate that those applying for the PBA draft must first inform the NCAA in writing of their intention before submitting their application, something Perez and his handlers were reportedly not able to do.
While insisting that Perez should have been allowed to play in Game One, citing similar situations in the past and underscoring how his player “did not do anything wrong” like, say, take drugs or played in non-NCAA-sanctioned tournaments in the offseason, Lyceum coach Topex Robinson is choosing to move on, believing that the damage has been done and they have to focus now on the next game and extend the series.
Mr. Robinson said they are taking cue from their spirited fight back at the end of Game One that saw them reducing what was a 27-point lead early in the fourth period, 66-39, to just 10 points with minute left in the game.
“We could have just rolled over and died but we did not. We’re still in this and we’re excited for Game Two,” said Mr. Robinson.
Game Two of the series is set for Monday, Nov. 12, and Mr. Robinson said they will use the nearly a week lull to prepare hard with Perez figuring in their attack.
“We have a week to recover. We’ll try to see what adjustments we can make,” he said.
“We have to bring it on Monday and we’re excited to have CJ Perez back in our lineup,” Mr. Robinson added.
With Perez returning, the Pirates get added contribution across the board with the graduating player averaging 18.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.3 steals a game. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo