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NCAA: Lyceum embraces new role

By Jerome Lagunzad

Games Saturday
(Mall of Asia Arena)
12 noon – Opening Ceremonies
2 p.m. – San Beda vs San Sebastian
4 p.m. – Arellano vs. Mapua

For the first time since it entered the NCAA in 2011, Lyceum will find itself in an unfamiliar position after being regarded as one of the teams to beat when the country’s oldest collegiate league starts on Saturday.

Instead of feeling pressured, the Pirates are surprisingly embracing the favorites’ role with gusto.

And this early, Lyceum coach Topex Robinson – with the backing of the school management – is pulling all the stops in the hope of toughening up the Pirates’ collective mindset.

Through the initiative of athletic director Herc Callanta, the Pirates cagers, along with their full coaching staff, are undergoing “a classroom-setting” training session under Marcus Manalo, a sports science graduate from University of the Philippines, to keep themselves on their toes – on and off the court.

“We’re on a different situation right now so the biggest challenge for us is how we will be mentally prepared every game,” said the 42-year-old Robinson, who inked a fresh two-year deal with the Pirates right after his initial contract expired last February.

“Team will prepare harder and play tougher against us. So we have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Kasi iba ang mangyayari sa amin ‘pag nag-relax kami o nalunod kami sa isang basong tubig.”

Despite losing solid big man Joseph Gabayni and promising guard Ian Alban to Arellano University in the off-season, Lyceum got raves following impressive showing in several pre-season tourneys, highlighted by a third-place finish in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup.