The San Beda Red Lions were stunned.
The defending champions on Friday suffered a narrow 96-91 defeat at the hands of the Lyceum Pirates; an early loss for a team gunning for a second straight title.
The loss left somewhat of a sting for them as they had a chance to win the game. Uncharacteristically, they failed to execute on both ends of the floor, going scoreless in the last three minutes while allowing their opponent to score freely.
In particular, head coach Boyet Fernandez admitted it was a lapse on the defensive end that caused their demise.
“We know that Lyceum is a really good team. Giving up 96 points is not our defense. They scored 96 like they did in the first game,” Fernandez lamented, citing LPU’s dominant win against the JRU Heavy Bombers last Tuesday.
“So if we want to beat LPU we can’t play them offense on offense, we have to make stops. They really scored at will,” he went on.
The Pirates shot an efficient 45 percent from the field. Their star CJ Perez was a man on a mission as he unloaded 24 points in 33 minutes of play. The Pirates loved to use their small ball lineup, putting guys like Reymar Caduyac, Ralph Tansingco, and Perez, at the front court. The Red Lions did a good job matching up at the start, but their players got into foul trouble, which made things more difficult for them.
“We had a game plan against CJ, but he scored at will. We have to check the tapes and analyze why we got burned on defense,” Fernandez assessed.
In the final moments of the game, forward Reymar Caduyac was able to make hard drives to the basket as the San Beda defense was left unable to recover. Caduyac’s last bucket was caused by a clear lane to the hoop with a minute remaining that gave his team a six-point advantage.
On offense, the Red Lions became stagnant towards the end. Robert Bolick, the team’s primary playmaker, was harassed by the pesky LPU defense.
“I know they wanted Bolick to attack the basket, so for us, we really have to rotate the ball,” shared Fernandez. “We had 20 assists, it’s just a matter of making the shots for the other guys. We have to take those open shots when Bolick gives up the ball.”
Despite the loss, Fernandez and his team remain optimistic. For a talented team with all its potent weapons, they are aware of their limits and the potential of their opponents.
“There are very strong teams ahead of us. We know that they’re looking at us but as I’ve said, there are so many teams that’s stronger right now,” he explained. “We just won the FilOil (Flying V Preseason Premier Cup) that’s why everybody thinks we’re strong. But we lost this one but I think it’s good for us also. We lost and we learned our lesson.”
“We’ll be back. it’s a good test for us and how we’ll come back the next game,” he added.
The defending champions will look to lick their wounds quickly as they will have to face the CSB Blazers on Tuesday.