LPU coach Gilbert Malabanan gives instruction to the team. — NCAA/SYNERGY-GMA

Game Today
(Filoil EcoOil Centre)
3 p.m. — AU vs LPU

PLACING ninth and second to last the NCAA season before, Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) has turned things around using two big weapons — hard work and dedication.

“It depends on how far our hard work and dedication would take us,” LPU coach Gilbert Malabanan yesterday told The STAR when asked if they could sustain their strong start in Season 98.

The Pirates will try to close out their first round campaign with a bang as they square off with the unpredictable Arellano U Chiefs in the league’s lone offering at 3 p.m. today at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

LPU is currently at No. 2 with a 6-2 mark, which was capped by an 82-79 overtime thriller over San Sebastian Sunday, and behind pace setter College of St. Benilde (7-1).

The Pirates are on pace in matching a pair of runner up finishes in 2017 and 2018 and potentially putting them in a position to claim their first championship since joining the league 11 years ago.

Mr. Malabanan though isn’t thinking that too far ahead.

“We’re not thinking of the finals yet because our goal is make it to the Final Four first,” he said.

AU, for its part, has been playing hot and cold.

After showing some fight early with big wins after big wins including one over the three-peat-seeking Letran Knights, the Cholo Martin-mentored Arellano University (AU) Chiefs suddenly played flat and suffered their worst defeat of the season — an embarrassing 96-61 rubout at the hands of the San Beda Lions Friday.

The rout sent AU out of the magic four and into joint No. 6 with UPHSD on identical 4-4 cards.

And they hope to get back on track with a win over the Pirates. — J. Villar