MANILA, Philippines – If San Beda versus Perpetual in the NCAA Season 94 Final Four is all about dominance, then the matchup between the Lyceum Pirates and the Letran Knights is all about last chances.
Sure, Bong Quinto already won one title in 2015 when Letran under head coach Aldin Ayo stunned many-time champion San Beda Red Lions.
But there would be no better way for Quinto to boost his draft stock than to win one more for the school that took care of him for at least 7 years.
And unlike 3 years ago – unlike last year, even – Quinto has reached his peak as a collegiate star by being a nightly triple-double threat.
No player in the league had dropped triple-doubles since Arellano’s Jio Jalalon and Perpetual’s Scottie Thompson in 2015. But the do-it-all forward went ahead and got 3 for himself this season – two coming off back-to-back games.
While Quinto already has a title, Lyceum's CJ Perez does not. The reigning league MVP suffered a massive heartbreak last season when the playoff-experienced Red Lions pounced on the Pirates in a 2-0 finals sweep after Lyceum went on an undefeated 18-0 tear in the elimination rounds.
This year, the Pirates got bested thrice in the regular season – one loss each from playoff teams San Beda, Letran and Perpetual – but they may stand to benefit from it as they now avoid weeks-long layoffs that come with being a stepladder finalist.
Like Quinto, Perez has achieved peak form as one of the top 3 draft prospects in the upcoming PBA Draft and it’s easy to see why.
Aside from his unquestionable offensive prowess, he's also the league’s best perimeter defender with a lofty average of 3.3 steals a game, followed only by his teammate Jaycee Marcelino with a still-respectable 1.8 swipes per contest.
Overall, this series – which kicks off Friday, October 26 at 1:30 pm – will guarantee high-octane offense, as Lyceum and Letran are the top two scoring teams in the league with respective averages of 86.6 and 80.8 points per game.
They are also the league-leaders in assists with Letran’s 20.2 dimes per game coming in at first and Lyceum’s 19 dishes a night right behind them.
They, however, play contrasting styles as the Pirates enjoy fast sailing at a top-ranked 89.08 pace while the Knights prefer some mano-a-mano at 80.05 – the third-slowest in the league.
Whatever their styles may be, this series will promise some fireworks right out of the gate. Letran is in the way of Lyceum’s last stand, and the battle-tested Knights have nothing to lose. – Rappler.com