NCAA: ‘Unpredictable’ Lyceum emerges as early leader

Lyceum Pirates NCAA Season 99

Lyceum Pirates.–NCAA PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Just a week into the NCAA Season 99, Lyceum coach Gilbert Malabanan looked like he just ran through the gauntlet after his team’s escape over Perpetual Help on Saturday.

Malabanan dragged his feet to the media room for the customary post-game press conference and let out a huge sigh of relief and exhaustion.

After all, Malabanan just steered Lyceum to a perfect start but not after three pulsating victories–two of which came at the expense of last year’s finalists College of St. Benilde and Letran.

Malabanan, though, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“With me, I would even like to take these kinds of games even if it’s early in the season because in the next games, there’ll be more like this but what I liked most about my team today is they weren’t rattled,” said Malabanan, whose squad’s winning margin in its first three games is 2.6 points, in Filipino after the 76-73 squeaker.

There’s also a trend to Lyceum’s first three wins.

“(JM) Bravo was our best player in the first game, then it became (Shawn) Umali and now Enoch (Valdez),” Malabanan said.

“This is what I’ve been saying since last season until now. My team is very unpredictable, as you can see in our scoring, it’s balanced. Anybody can be the best player here.”

The unpredictability is precisely the reason why the Pirates are No. 1 early in the season.

But Lyceum couldn’t care any less about the standings as far as big man Shawn Umali is concerned with the Pirates only focused on winning the elusive title.

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“We don’t even look at where we are [in the standings]. All we’ll do is celebrate this win today and tomorrow we go to work right away,” said Umali, who posted seven points and eight rebounds against the Altas.