By Jerome Lagunzad
San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez does not need a rocket scientist to figure out why the Red Lions are struggling in the NCAA basketball tournament.
“It’s really our defense that broke down yesterday (Friday night), Sir,” he lamented in a text message the morning after defending champion San Beda fell prey to Lyceum’s high-octane offense, 96-91.
Though it was only the team’s second game of the season it was considered by many as a potential finals preview.
“We know that Lyceum is a really good team. But giving up 96 points is not our defense. They really scored at will.
If we want to beat LPU, we can’t play them on offense. We have to make stops.”
And that’s precisely what the Red Lions failed to do down the stretch as they looked kids lost in wilderness, allowing Pirates’ prized recruit CJ Perez and veteran Reymar Caduyac to score almost at will.
Living up to his lofty billing, the 6-foot-1 Perez poured in a game-high 24 points, including a tough go-ahead bucket inside the last three minutes, while Caduyac highlighted his 16-point showing with back-to-back unmolested lay-ups as Lyceum seized the solo leadership with a 2-0 mark.
What made their defeat more painful was that Lyceum only had 12 assists – eight less than San Beda’s – despite matching its scoring output in a 21-point blowout of perennial Final 4 contender Jose Rizal University last Tuesday.
“Probably our individual defense,” is what Fernandez feels hurt San Beda the most. “We have to check the tapes and analyze why we got burned on defense.”
Still, Fernandez could only hope that the Red Lions will earn nothing less than a wake-up call that the trek back to the top won’t be any easier despite overwhelming the opposition in pre-season tournaments.