Cortez confident in Lions’ Finals game plan
Playing with a cool and calm demeanor, Jacob Cortez is a chip off the old block.
He tries to prove that he is also his own man, but he values being a part of a cohesive unit.
“What’s really important is our focus as a team,” Cortez said after San Beda’s 89-68 semifinal rout of No. 2 seed Lyceum.
That focus will come in handy for the Red Lions in a do-or-die encounter at 3 p.m. on Friday because Cortez is aware that Lyceum is “gonna make adjustments” after that stinging beatdown.
With his dad, the original “Cool Cat” Mike Cortez, watching at the sidelines, the young Red Lion took the keys of the San Beda offense and led the team to a fifth straight victory.
“Jacob knows how to play, so I just let him be. I trust him on that,” said San Beda coach Yuri Escueta.
The streaking Lions have the Pirates right where they want—backed into a corner after losing in blowouts in back-to-back matches.
“We learned from our slow start in the second round and gained a lot of experience. Ever since that Mapua loss, we told ourselves to stay composed, relaxed and just listen to the coaches,’’ said Cortez.
Both teams split the elimination phase with the Pirates finding themselves hanging by a thread before pulling off a close shave in the first round. The Red Lions retaliated and crushed Lyceum without mercy in their succeeding meeting.
Leaning on the athletic Enoch Valdez, John Barba and burly Shawn Umali, the Pirates are dependent on their inside game.