San Sebastian coach Egay Macaraya will be banking on the team’s hustle and bustle-kind of game when they try to end their eight-year title drought in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
“Dalhin na lang namin sa liksi. Kasi Stags kami eh. Sipag at hustle,” said Macaraya shortly after crushing the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, 85-73, in the stepladder semifinals last Oct. 27.
But before thinking about reaching the Promised Land, Macaraya and his stalwarts have to hurdle defending champion San Beda Red Lions in the semifinals – the same foe that denied them title victories in 2010 and 2011.
Unlike San Beda, which has been a regular fixture in the title round for the last 11 seasons, San Sebastian has never made it to the finals since 2011.
They may lack of experience, but Macayara still believes his boys have what it takes to pull off surprises.
Their biggest motivation is to avenge their defeats to the Red Lions in the first and second round elims of the season.
Backstopped then by the “Pinatubo Trio” of Calvin Abueva, Ronald Pascual and Ian Sangalang, the Stags won the 2009 championship.
Now the Stags have a new version of “Super Three” in Michael Calisaan, Allyn Bulanadi and Regille Ilagan, and Macaraya is hoping the three will once again deliver the goods when they clash with the Lions on Tuesday.
The winner will earn the right to meet the thrice-to-beat Lyceum Pirates in the finals.