For the first time since winning the NCAA Season 94 Seniors Basketball title, the San Beda Red Lions stepped into the Filoil Flying V Centre, Monday afternoon.
But something felt different about this batch.
“Mabigat talaga yung nawala sa amin since they are averaging a combined twenty-plus points, close to fifteen rebounds, plus yung assists na sampu,” pointed out decorated Red Lions head coach Boyet Fernandez.
“Marami pa kaming bigas na kakainin.”
There were plenty of new faces for the Red Lions when they faced UAAP counterparts Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles. But San Beda remained steady because of incoming-second year floor general Evan Nelle.
In the 22 minutes he played, he finished with 12 points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Moreover, he ended the game with a plus/minus-rating of plus-nine in San Beda’s 49-43 triumph.
The 19-year-old floor general admitted that it felt different to be on the floor without his two seniors. But it was exciting as well.
“Sarap na experience kasi kahit wala na sila, kailangan namin mag-step up.
“We prepared for this moment. Credit to coach Boyet at sa teammates ko. We really wanted to win,” shared the 5-foot-10 guard.
“The way he played today, he made a statement,” lauded Fernandez.
When Nelle enrolled his San Beda, the officials of the team gave him a promise – that in Season 95 of the NCAA, the Red Lions will be his team.
“Ever since we got Evan, we already told him that in Season Ninety-Five will be your year and this will be your team. You have to prove to the veterans that you can carry this team because you are the main point guard of this team.”
Though there is plenty of pressure, the San Beda lifer is embracing it and just enjoying the moment.
“No pressure naman kasi I like stepping up naman. No pressure at all.
“Sa akin naman, we work as a team. Hindi na siya parang Javee and Robert. It’s a group of guys na talaga. We have to help each other, lift each other, and complement each other para makuha namin yung four-peat,” expressed the young gun.