MANILA, Philippines – After enduring a tumultuous campaign last year, San Sebastian College appears to have righted the ship in the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball tournament.
The Golden Stags are off to a 2-0 start this year, with big wins over Jose Rizal University and Mapua University. They opened up their campaign by routing the Heavy Bombers, 82-51, then demolished a promising Cardinals squad, 92-68, on Tuesday.
"We're very happy na ganoon ang nangyayari, because the boys were just playing well, and they're just focusing on the game plan, and everybody is enjoying the game, and especially, they're playing good defense. Sana, matuloy-tuloy na namin," beamed coach Egay Macaraya after their win over Mapua.
The Golden Stags have been impressive to start the season, with veterans RK Ilagan and Allyn Bulanadi leading the way in their wins. But Macaraya has also gotten solid contributions from his role players, including players like Alvin Capobres, JM Calma, and Ken Villapando.
It is a complete turnaround from their start in Season 94, when several players left San Sebastian right before the start of the season. Among those were Renzo Navarro, Jayson David, and Alfren Gayosa, all of whom were key contributors in Season 93.
They also had to forfeit two wins in the first round, after Ilagan was found to have played in a commercial league. San Sebastian eventually missed the Final 4 after finishing with a 6-12 win-loss record.
This year, however, seems to be promising. Ilagan is fully committed to San Sebastian and is playing better than ever, and Bulanadi is completely recovered from a shoulder injury that he suffered during the D-League.
"This is just our second game, marami pang mangyayari," said Macaraya. "And I hope na we will stay as a family and as a team, together, walang madisgrasya, walang ma-injure, and walang distractions and all those things."
Macaraya noted that the Golden Stags went through plenty of preparation in the offseason, including playing in several different leagues, in an effort to finally find success in the NCAA.
"We're showing a new character of San Sebastian, new focus and goal, vision and goal. At least sana, sana mawala na lahat 'yun, and I'm very happy and very proud na kahit maliliit kami, we're doing fine," said the coach.
The Golden Stags will be tested next week, as they play last season's finalists, Lyceum of the Philippines University and San Beda University, in back-to-back games.
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