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Yuri Escueta on Finals pressure: ‘Confidence comes with preparation’


In just his second year as the head coach for San Beda University, Yuri Escueta has led the Red Lions back into the NCAA Seniors Basketball Tournament finals for the first time since season 95.

Waiting for them at the pinnacle of the NCAA tournament is Mapua University, the only school the Red Lions have yet to beat in the entirety of season 99.

“Well, we have to prepare; hindi namin sila natalo in the first and second round. We almost had them in the second round, but again, their talent is really ibang klase. Their shotmaking ability are something we need to be ready for. We almost had them, but it’s not gonna be easy,” shared Escueta.

“Every time you wear that San Beda jersey, you want to represent and win that championship for everyone. Paghahandaan namin and pag-aaralan.”

NCAA-98-SBU-vs.-LPU-Yuri-Escueta-0569 Yuri Escueta on Finals pressure: 'Confidence comes with preparation' Basketball NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports newsOn the other end, Escueta figures in a duel against a significantly more experienced head coach in Randy Alcantara, who has commanded both the Mapua Robins and the Cardinals to immeasurable success.

“It’s no surprise. Coach Randy has been doing a good job with his team. He has good players, players that he’s familiar with,” said Escueta about his Finals opponent.

Despite the uphill battle awaiting Escueta, he maintained his lighthearted and calm demeanor, unfazed by the pressures of facing an experienced coach leading a team the Red Lions have yet to beat on the biggest stage of Collegiate Basketball.

“Dami nga nagtatanong sa akin regarding the pressure. Sabi nga ng mga tao bakit parang tumatawa-tawa lang ako,” explained Escueta, a champion player in Ateneo and formerly an assistant coach of Tab Baldwin.

“Pero all the years I’ve played, I’ve coached, I’ve experienced playing in the Final Four, winning championships, the things that I’ve learned from my previous coaches are that the confidence you gain is from the preparation. It comes from the preparation that you do.”

Ever since his playing days as a San Beda Red Cub and as an Ateneo Blue Eagle, Escueta constantly found himself preparing for the big games, and that experience makes him confident that his squad’s preparations leading up to their finals berth will be enough to get over the seemingly-unbeatable Cardinals.NCAA-99-SBU-vs.-AU-Jacob-Cortez-2 Yuri Escueta on Finals pressure: 'Confidence comes with preparation' Basketball NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

“Hindi ko rin alam, baka sa sobrang every year nangyayari, parang normal na sa akin. The main reason is really how you prepare; that’s really what gives you confidence.

“Not just these eliminations, but the preparation namin came since January. These guys worked hard in the first three months of the year; we picked up the next three months, we joined tournaments, we traveled in the Philippines, we traveled abroad. We had experience playing different teams, so yung confidence nila and yung preparation na pinaghanda namin sa final four hindi yun nangyari ng isang buwan or dalawang buwan,” he continued.

#ReadMore  NCAA 99: Escamis steers Mapua to surprise rout of San Beda, gains share of lead

Fortunately for Escueta, aiding him in his preparations for the finals are two former coaches who have far more experience with collegiate coaching than almost anyone in the whole country.

Team consultants Boyet Fernandez and Norman Black have a combined nine NCAA and UAAP championships between the two of them, and they have been instrumental all year long in the success of San Beda.NCAA-Season-95-SBU-def-MU-Boyet-Fernandez Yuri Escueta on Finals pressure: 'Confidence comes with preparation' Basketball NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

“The two of them, they’re championship coaches. They’re coaches who won already not just once but multiple times.

“Whatever yung mga decisions, we talk about it. They give their inputs, and of course, me as a young coach, I listen to these coaches. Iba yung winning experience nila. Not just the two of them but also the other coaches that I have. This is not just me, it’s not just the players, it’s everyone. From the first to the eighteenth guy, from all the assistant coaches and the staff even,” Escueta said of his star-studded supporting cast.

With Black, Fernandez, and the rest of the San Beda coaching staff at his side, Escueta prepares to find holes in the NCAA’s top team before the two tipoff for Game 1 on Wednesday.

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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