The Lyceum Pirates are seen as a team to beat in season 94 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament.
The defending champion San Beda Red Lions are wary of them, since not much has changed from the Pirates’ roster since they fought it out for the crown last year.
Lyceum team manager Andro Lopez said a three-week training camp for two of their top cagers CJ Perez and MJ Ayaay has helped improved their skills.
For the rest of the Topex Robinson-coached Pirates, a team-building session in Batangas also helped keep the team in high spirits.
“We want to prove that we’re better team than last year,” said Lopez.
Last season, the Pirates went 18-0 in the elimination round, but bowed to the Lions in the championship round.
This year, the Pirates will play without veteran sniper Wilson Baltazar and heady guard Pipoy Marata, who have used up their eligibility years.
Lopez said 6’3” Ranzhelle Yong and Letran Squires’ defensive big man Enoch Valdez are coming in to take their place.
He said the team reached the finals last year without having the needed championship experience.
“But now, we have championship experience,” said Lopez.
Perez forms the core of the team with Cameroonian big man Mike Nzeusseu, Ayaay, and twins Jaycee and Jayvee Marcelino still around.
The team has earned a championship winning experience in both the Philippine Collegiate Champions League and the Philippine Basketball Association D-League.