Season 91 Preview: Lyceum, Letran, St. Benilde (Middle of Nowhere)

Muralla, Intramuros
June 21, 2015
Season 91 Preview: Lyceum, Letran, St. Benilde (Middle of Nowhere)

(Second of a three-part series)
I would like to start this blog by greeting all the fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day. This is our day. Let’s also thank our fathers because without them, you wouldn’t be reading this and I wouldn’t be writing this. Let’s also show gratitude to the father of our fathers and their fathers before them. And so and so forth. This is our special day. So let’s enjoy it.
I did.
In fact, I spent it with my wife, who gave me my first ever Father’s Day gift–a beautiful paper photo album of my London sojourn eight years ago. It was special because it transported me back to the time I covered Brandon Vera against Fabricio Werdum and Matt Hughes against Thiago Alvez in the Ultimate Fighting Championship at the O2 Arena. Loving the nostalgia. Those were the days, indeed. Also spent it with my ultra-energetic son, whom I chased all day.
And then time for blogging.
So where were we? Oh, NCAA. After tackling Mapua, EAC and San Sebastian in the first installment, let’s do the next three. Starting with….

Lyceum should come into Season 91 a little inspired after the NCAA made it and EAC a regular member. Whether it will translate into basketball success, it remains to be seen.
Why it would not win?
I always liked seeing Lyceum play with their tough, never-say-die, throw-it-all-the-window style. They will win some games, but most of the time they will lose some. It seems there is always something missing. This year, the feeling is the same. Something is lacking in this team that is hard to pinpoint. Solid backcourt? Perhaps. Consistent scoring? Probably. Cohesion? Maybe.
Why it would win?
Topex Robinson has taken over Lyceum’s long-time coach Bonnie Tan. And we all know Robinson is a master of motivating his players. If there’s one thing Lyceum isn’t going to lack, it’s confidence. And it’s because of Robinson. The Pirates will also be loaded up front. They’ve got bullstrong Joseph Gabayni, a slam-dunking Jebb Bulawan and a banger in Seraj Elmejrab. High-scoring Guy Mbida, yes Guy, should be another conerstone of this team after a solid first season a year ago. If there are teams I think would be exciting this year, the Pirates are one of them.

Madam Auring: Pirates of the Carribean? I love that movie. Can’t say the same about Lyceum.

Who is Aldin Ayo? For those who don’t know him, he happens to be the new coach of the Letran Knights, replacing Caloy Garcia, who steered the Knights to a finals stint two years ago only to fail to make it to even make it to the Final the next season.

Why it would not win?
Who is Aldin Ayo? He’s practically a newbie in terms of coaching. His coaching experience goes as far as being part of KIA’s coaching staff in the PBA and the Jr. NBA, which is NBA’s program for the youth. Letran has gone from Binky Favis (titled) to Louie Alas (multi-titled) to Garcia (experienced) to Ayo (rookie) in the last few decades. Maybe the Knights are trying to rebuild and literally start from scratch. So let’s give Ayo a chance and the benefit of the doubt.
Why it would win?
Who is Aldin Ayo? As an added info, Ayo is a former teammate of Kerby Raymundo and Chris Calaguio when Letran lorded it over the field in the late 90s. If there’s anything going right for the Knights in tapping Ayo, at least they will not be pressured to win with a brand new coach. So don’t blame Ayo if they lose. Because Letran isn’t going to be a pushover come Season 91. If you’re not scared of the backcourt of Mark Cruz, Kevin Racal and Rey Nambatac, I don’t know what will. Also, Rey Publico and Kier Quinto are both seasoned by last year’s experience. McJour Luib is also back to give the backcourt an added punch defensively. Racal should be back healthy after a season-ending injury a year ago. If you’re scared of Racal, I would also be thinking of Cruz and Nambatac too. Men, I’m excited already.

Madam Auring: Who’s Aldin Ayo again?
Unless you’re in a cave, all of you have probably seen Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. Yes? Yes. I’ve mentioned about the movie because honestly, the Blazers reminded me of hobbits and the NCAA Middle Earth. Other teams, they’ve grown like giants with the deluge of Sauron or Smaug-like African imports.
Why it would not win?
Hobbits. While others went taller, St. Benilde went smaller. They made do last year despite the lack of ceiling with speed, outside shooting and perseverance. Unfortunately, they lost Mark Romero and Juan Paolo Taha, who happened to comprise two-thirds of the Blazers’ total production last year. So it will be to even match the school’s impressive fifth-best 11-7 (win-loss) reacord a season ago.
Why it would win?

Talented Jonathan Grey, part of St. Benilde’s three-man battering ram consisting also of Romero and Taha last year, is back. What they lack up front, the Blazers make it up with quickness and stubborn defense, which I think will keep the team afloat for a while. It counts that Jeffrey Ongteco, Pons Saavedra and reigning NCAA three-point king Travis Jonson are present.
Madam Auring: Did Hobbits survive all six installments and live to tell their tales?
To be continued….

Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

(Photos courtesy of, Manila Bulletin and Bicol Today)


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