MOVING ON. Letran Head Coach Jeff Napa remains hopeful after the Knights stumble at the hands of the Lyceum Pirates. Photo by Luis Alfonso Tamondong.
Letran’s winning streak ended when a familiar foe in Lyceum rose back from 17 points down to outlast them, 68–75, in the NCAA Season 93 men’s basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre on Friday.
However, head coach Jeff Napa is staying positive despite the heartbreaking loss which ended their four-game victory run and saw Lyceum notch its eighth.
“Positive pa rin naman kami despite we lost,” said Napa. “Alam ko naman na despite sa loss na to maraming nangyaring positibo samin. Yung mga mali namin kailangan namin i-adjust,” he added.
Leading as much as 17 points, the Knights found themselves slowly being preyed by the Pirates at the second half. A big factor to this was Mike Nzeusseu’s dominance amid Letran’s lack of height due to Jeo Ambohot’s injury.
Losing Ambohot was definitely a huge blow for the Knights especially after Lyceum beat them in the rebounding column, 53–42. But not enough contribution from other guys was also a factor to the loss, admitted Napa.
“Positive naman kami kahit wala si Jeo. ‘Yun nga lang, ‘yung mga ineexpect namin na tutulong talaga, kahit quality minutes, medyo kulang,” Napa stressed.
His so-called “magic bunots” off the bench in King Caralipio and Alex Mandreza, who played well in their previous win against San Sebastian, both struggled; with Mandreza fouling out early and Caralipio only scoring four points.
“Yung mga players naman positibo pa rin. ‘Yung mga magic bunots ko kasi ‘di umubra. Kumbaga walang nagstep-up para sa bench,” said Napa.
“So ‘yun ‘yung kailangan kong i-adjust ulit para i-check ulit ‘yung mga mindset ng players, lalo na ‘yung mga off the bench para ma-recall lang nila ‘yung role nila sa team,” he added.
Admittedly, Napa stressed that it was their own lapses that brought them down the endgame and not the tangibles they lost at the first place.
“Wala kaming pakialam kasi kung ano ginagawa ng kalaban namin. Ang pakialam namin ‘yung sarili namin. Ngayon hindi naman Lyceum tumalo sa amin, sarili namin ang tumalo sa amin,” he said.
The Pirates edged away in the fourth period after they sported an 11–2 run behind Nzeusseu’s dominant efforts on both ends. The mischief then continued for Letran who only scored four points in its next possessions, leaving Lyceum to pull away further.
CJ Perez scored 14 points and five rebounds for the Pirates, while Nzeusseu had 13 and 15. Rey Nambatac top-scored Letran with 16 markers and six boards. JP Calvo chipped in 11.
With nine games done, the Knights capped the first round with a 5–4 record to possibly put them at the third spot of the standings (still depending on JRU and EAC). Napa insists major adjustments will be made but is confident that they will come out strong once the second round begins.
“[We’ll] be humble, maglalaro pa rin kami. We’ll give our best kahit sino yung magiging kalaban namin.”