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Lyceum does unorthodox preparation for Finals

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With a 22-day break from NCAA before they head on to a best-of-three finals series, it is expected that the Lyceum of the Philippines University will grind it out in the gym and undergo tuneup games to stay in shape. And yes, they have been doing all that but something unexpected is in their pre-finals regimen — community service.

“We went to White Cross, which is a home for kids that were abandoned. It’s a part of letting [the players] know how blessed they are to be in this situation right now,” coach Topex Robinson shared Saturday afternoon.

Last week, Lyceum players and coaches bonded with kids over games and food at the White Cross orphanage in San Juan City, showing how they stay true in their battlecry to inspire people beyond basketball.

Photo from Lyceum of the Philippines University

Photo from Lyceum of the Philippines University

“Rather to boast about and be proud, we did a lot of community service so again it’s going back to service and being where we are now, we could be enjoying everything but it’s always about helping back and giving back,” the amiable coach expressed.

In addition to giving back to the community, they utilized their break to go back to their roots, acclimatize themselves to the Araneta Coliseum, and keep playing competitive basketball.

“I gave them three days off to go back to their families and ang reminder ko dun when they went back, try to remember where you were, where you started and how everything went to you,” Robinson shared, pertaining to majority of his players who went home to spend time with their families during the recent holidays.

“It’s always about remembering saan sila nanggaling before.”

The team was also spotted enjoying Ateneo takes its 12th straight win Saturday afternoon in the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the same arena where they will gut it out for the NCAA finals. As a squad that played and won 17 games in the Filoil Flying V Centre and one on tour, acclimatizing themselves for the championship in the Big Dome is a must.LPU MBT at UAAP-2457

“We just wanna visualize kung ano yung mangyayari in the next few weeks so that’s the reason we went here. It’s really about sharing to the players how special it is to be here and watching the games, mentally preparing ourselves for the battle,” he said as he was joined by his players all clad in matching red LPU basketball shirts.

“Tomorrow we’re gonna play Alab [Pilipinas for a tune-up game]. It’s gonna be our first basketball game after yung October 19 game [versus San Beda],” the Lyceum mentor shared.

“After that, we’re just gonna practice because we won’t know until Tuesday so we’re just working on our preparation.”

A 22-day break from competitive basketball may be a bane but the Pirates are not taking any of it.

“It’s really hard. It’s a challenge. Tinanong nga ako before na we could choose to make it an advantage for us being away for a while, or a disadvanatge and we chose the first. We want it to be an advantage for us,” Robinson said.

“They know that our job isn’t done, they are always playing humble, they always know that they haven’t accomplished anything yet.”

The Pirates are waiting for the winner of the last step-ladder semi-finals game between San Sebastian Golden Stags and San Beda Red Lions next Tuesday. Either way, it is going to be a tough battle for the history-seeking Lyceum. With the brand of preparation Lyceum is employing, they are making sure that whoever their opponent will be starting November 10, they are ready to inspire.

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Danine is a graduating Broadcast Communication student who writes about basketball and volleyball in between her classes. Initially just a sports fan mostly influenced by her fanatic dad, she eventually realized that she can make a career out of her passion after her amazing internship with Tiebreaker Times

Basketball

Low-key Owen Graham out to prove worth as top pick

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When the AMA Online Education Titans announced Owen Graham as the first overall pick in the 2017 PBA D-League Draft, many quickly went to Google to search on who the Filipino-Canadian was. However, there were only a few articles that could be found about his past exploits.

This was in stark contrast compared to their draft haul a year ago that was headlined by heralded Jeron Teng. And that’s just the way the Filipino-Canadian likes it.

“With hard work and dedication, I’m pretty confident that you’re gonna hear more about me,” the 25-year-old shared.

“Maybe not now, not later, but someday you’ll hear more from me because I believe hard work pays off.”

Even with a class that includes the likes of local collegiate stalwarts Alvin Pasaol and Arvin Tolentino, the staff of head coach Mark Herrera decided that’s it is better to stick something that is familiar to them rather than risk getting spurned after one conference just like what happened a season ago.

“Rookie siya sa D-League pero he played for me sa NAASCU na, sa Fr. Martin and NCRAA, so medyo marunong na ‘yung bata,” said Herrera.

“Pretty much, I heard there are tryouts and I just decided to stop by. I just asked to play with them,” recalled Graham, who decided to take the risk of coming back home to the Philippines in 2016.

“They gave me a shot and I just showcased my abilities after that.”

The 6-foot-4 swingman though almost did not get a chance to fulfill his dreams of playing basketball.

Back when he was in college in Toronto, Canada, he, together with close friends Norbert Torres and James Forrester, was recruited by schools such as De La Salle University. However, he had to fulfill a promise to his mother first. He needed to get his collge degree before he could pursue his hoop dreams.

“I’m a late bloomer. I started to take the game serious when I was 20,” shared Graham, who is also close to Matthew Wright and LA Revilla. “When I was younger, they told me to come here, but I had to fulfill my moms dream which is finishing school in Toronto.

“Now I’m fulfilling my dream.”

Graham hopes to achieve the same success as his friends are experiencing in the pros. But it’s a good thing he knows that the journey will be long and tedious. More importantly, he knows that nothing comes easy here in the Philippines.

“They told me nothing comes easy so I got to come in with a chip on my shoulder, stay hungry, stay humble. That’s just my way,” he said. “Nobody knows about me, I like it that way. It just give me a better chance to prove myself.

“You know I’m forever grateful for this opportunity. There’s always be pressure in everything you decide to do, but I’m just gonna stick to what I know which is do my best, work hard, dive for the ball, get dirty if I have to and hopefully, make an impact.”

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Koy Banal downplays Marinerong Pilipino’s tag as D-League Draft winners

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The AMA Online Education Titans may have acquired the first overall pick, but the clear winner of the 2017 PBA D-League Draft Tuesday was the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, with all the talent they were able to acquire in the hour-long proceedings.

The sophomore club team was able to nab the likes of UE Red Warriors’ Alvin Pasaol, ex-Letran Knight Chester Saldua, two-time UAAP champion Abu Tratter of De La Salle Green Archers, and newly-minted UAAP gold medalist Vince Tolentino of the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

“Ang kinonsider ko is mostly makakalaban ko are collegiate teams eh, so we needed young legs who would be able to keep up with our opponents na young legs din,” said head coach Koy Banal of the logic behind his picks.

They may have harvested the best crop of talents available, but the multi-titled mentor was quick to play down such idea, saying that their rookies, despite being heralded cagers in college, have yet to prove that they can mesh well.

“Diyan maraming nagkakamali eh. Akala nila maganda yung mga picks (okay na),” said Banal, who are looking for players who can gel with holdovers Achie Iñigo, Renzo Subido, and Mark Isip.

“So tinitignan namin kung sino magja-jive.

“All of them are good picks and can contribute anytime in any given game dito sa team namin. Kilala naman namin sila. Siyempre meron kaming existing na, and we’re hoping na magkaroon ng magandang chemistry,” he added.

Marinero finished fourth in their maiden campaign in the 2017 Foundation Cup, all thanks to a miraculous ru . And now, with all the pieces they have acquired, Banal and his deputies aim to emulate such feat in the upcoming season.

“That’s the plan. That’s the goal actually,” said the veteran strategist.

“Natutunan namin na after our campaign last conference, more or less we know how to [play consistent] from day one up to the end. Kasi we started so slow eh.”

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Fighting Maroons beg off from D-League commitments

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Studies first

With the University of the Philippines in the midst of its second semester of their academic calendar when the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup begins, Fighting Maroons head coach Bo Perasol asked his players if they could forego of their basketball commitments for the mean time to focus on their studies.

“They will have a really hard time passing, and even attending, their subjects if they’re going to miss classes because of the practices and games,” the incoming third-year UP Men’s Basketball team mentor shared.

Tuesday afternoon, sophomore Javi Gomez de Liano was drafted by the Wangs-Letran Couriers and junior Jerson Prado was selected by Gamboa Coffee-St. Clare Lovers while skipper Paul Desiderio and junior Diego Dario are currently free agents in the league. Desiderio last played for the Cafe France-CEU Bakers during the 2016 Aspirants’ Cup while Dario joined the AMA Online Education Titans as well.

Being a former student-athlete himself, Perasol knows how important the second semester is, especially for eligibility for the 81st season of the UAAP.

“The second semester is very important in their eligibility for the next season,” Perasol added.

With a loaded line-up for the upcoming UAAP season, the Fighting Maroons can’t afford any mishaps.

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Jeff Napa, Letran try to change Wangs Basketball’s fortunes

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For the first time since joining the PBA D-League, the Wangs Basketball Couriers will be bannered by a collegiate team as they have partnered up with the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights.

Gone are the days that the team is stacked with PBA aspirants and cagers trying to make it back to the big league. Donning the Wangs jersey this time around are the likes of Bong Quinto, JP Calvo, Jerrick Balanza, Jeo Ambohot, Bonbon Batiller, Fran Yu, Christian Fajarito, and Larry Muyang.

With the chance of being able to compete once again in the second league, incoming third-year Letran head coach Jeff Napa wants to repay the trust of Wangs founder Alex Wang by being competitive this season.

“Si boss Alex (Wang) wala naman sinasabi sa akin na target pero gusto ko siyempre masuklian ang kabutihan niya sa amin. Gusto lang niya maging competitive yung team namin.

“Sa Letran naman, kailangan naman magka-experience in preparation for next season. Focus namin yung bonding namin para maging maganda yung season namin,” Napa said.

Joining the Letran core are their drafted players, headlined by his former players in National University — Michael Pate and Hubert Cani. Even with his familiarity with the two upstarts, Napa wants the two to earn their stripes with the team.

“Sana maging maganda yung response nila sa sistema namin,” the youthful mentor said. “Hindi naman porke’t naging player ko sila e magkaka-minutes na sila. Nakadepende pa rin sa system namin kung ano ang gusto namin mangyari.”

Besides the two, he also picked up UST Growling Tiger Henric Caunan, UP Fighting Maroon Javi Gomez de Liano, and Mapua Cardinal Christian Bunag.

Despite a deep team, the National University lifer is not guaranteeing anything, only saying that they will give a good fight.

“Okay naman. Satisfied naman ako sa dinraft namin. We’ll see kung anong mangyayari pero at least nakikita ko yung mga projection sa team namin,” Napa shared.

“This Aspirants’ Cup, magiging maganda ang labanan.”

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