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AJ Royo’s breakout a result of Yuri’s surprise ‘pamatay’ practices

San Beda University entered the NCAA Season 99 Seniors Basketball Tournament’s Undas break in a somewhat precarious position as it unexpectedly found itself in the midst of the race for the final four.

After concluding the first round with a 7-2 record, the Red Lions suffered back-to-back losses in the second round against two teams at the bottom of the standings, Arellano University and San Sebastian College-Recoletos.

“Of course, we saw it as a challenge. I told our players that adversity is a part of everything, be it life, basketball, NCAA, or their studies,” said Red Lions head coach Yuri Escueta.

“The important thing is how you handle it and how resilient you are after two tough losses.”

The Red Lions had anticipated using the short break to rest and recover from their two losses. However, Escueta had other plans. The former San Beda Red Cub point guard was determined to set his players’ minds straight before sending them on their breaks. Therefore, Escueta called for back-to-back practices in the two days following their loss to Baste.NCAA-99-SBU-vs.-EAC-Royo-and-Ochavo AJ Royo's breakout a result of Yuri's surprise 'pamatay' practices Basketball NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

“After ng dalawang talo namin grabe, Monday at Tuesday dapat wala kaming practice tapos biglang nagpapractice si coach.

“Akala namin paguusapan lang mga film, pero patayan talaga yung practice. Hindi namin inexpect dalawang araw, pero thankful rin kami sa practice namin kasi nagbunga din ako sabi ni coach,” shared Aaron Royo, San Beda’s backup point guard.

Royo himself was one of the primary beneficiaries of the additional training arranged by Escueta.

The rookie guard delivered an impressive performance in the Red Lions’ first game back from the break against Emilio Aguinaldo College. Royo scored 13 points, with seven of them coming in the first quarter, helping San Beda take an early 22-9 lead over EAC.

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Royo expressed his gratitude for the extra work set by Escueta, as it helped him stay prepared to contribute when called upon by the coaches.NCAA-99-SBU-vs.-EAC-AJ-Royo AJ Royo's breakout a result of Yuri's surprise 'pamatay' practices Basketball NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

“Yun nga sabi nila ng mga coaches, sa bench dapat ready kami lagi. Alam naman nila kung kailangan kami gagamitin sa laro. Simula sa practice, sa mga training, alam naman ni coach kung ano magagawan amin sa court at ginawa ko lang yung role ko sa team namin as a point guard off the bench sa team,” Royo shared.

With San Beda in top shape, they look forward to a matchup against the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA on Friday at 4:00 p.m.

Written By

Vito Martin is a sportswriter from the Philippines. In 2023, he graduated from the Ateneo De Manila University with a degree in BS Psychology. He wrote for Ateneo’s official school publication The GUIDON, where he covered basketball, football, baseball, badminton, and other collegiate sports. He is a life-long fan of the Boston Celtics and an avid follower of the NBA

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