This early, San Sebastian is seen as a legitimate contender for the Final 4 in the 93rd NCAA basketball tournament despite playing minus foreign players.
The Stags surprised a lot of fans by overachieving in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup and reaching the quarterfinal round of the contest when nobody expected it.
San Sebastian coach Egay Macaraya attributed the pre-season success to their speed, versatility and aggressive defense. All of these helped them negate their size disadvantage, he said.
“We know we’re a smaller team compared to others who have foreign players,” said Macaraya. “What we did was to outrun our opponents, play tougher defense and being versatile.”
Macaraya cited their best player Michael Calisaan, a 6-6 forward who is now taking and making three-point shots while turning into a facilitator and a leader.
“I told him he can’t make it to the PBA if he keeps on playing what he was playing before. He has to have more weapons, like shooting threes and facilitating. I’m glad he accepted the challenge,” said Macaraya of Calisaan.
The Stags have also gone deeper with the addition of Lorenzo Navarro, a transferee from La Salle who played high school ball for San Sebastian and the second stringers like Alfren Gayosa, Ian Valdez, Allyn Bulanadi and RK Ilagan stepping up to help the starters.
While Macaraya has mostly fixed his starting line up in Calisaan, Ryan Costelo, Jerick Fabian, Alvin Capobres and Jayson David, there is a chance he may make changes come tournament time.
“There is a chance I might tweak my starting five depending on the match up,” he said.
Season 93 of the NCAA will begin on July 8 at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
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