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Lyceum’s Coach Takes on Third Place Battle Outside NCAA

MANILA, Philippine—Lyceum coach Gilbert Malabanan expressed his dismay over the newly implemented battle for third place in the NCAA Season 99 men’s basketball tournament.

After a 93-83 loss at the hands of College of St. Benilde on Sunday, Malabanan doesn’t like the idea of seeing teams fight for the right to be the third-best team in the league.

“I don’t think so. Ever since, we got used to a tournament without a battle for third and all of a sudden, there is. It’s like another thing that shocked the players,” said Malabanan when asked if the battle for third is a good step forward for the league.

“We got used to our usual culture and all of a sudden, there’s this. It’s like we lost our advantage. That’s my point.”

The Pirates locked up the No. 2 seed at the end of the elimination round with a 13-5 record behind top team Mapua.

But after losing in the Final Four to San Beda despite owning a twice-to-beat advantage, Lyceum would’ve finished its season in third place.

But because of the classification match, the Pirates had to face the other losing semifinalist which was College of St. Benilde. The Blazers were the fourth seed with an 11-7 slate in the eliminations and were booted out by the Cardinals in the Final Four.

It also didn’t help Malabanan and his wards that they only found out about a third-place game moments after their loss to the Red Lions last week.

“We only found out after the San Beda loss. Right after the game, so we were kind of stunned.”

“As you can see, our players moved like it was already vacation because after that game, we really had low morale, we admit that, then all of a sudden there’s this game.”

What made it harder for Lyceum was they didn’t have the services of its best player and Mythical Five member Enoch Valdez, who already joined the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA.