Guest team Lyceum Pirates and the San Sebastian Stags have tangled before in the Fil-Oil Preseason Tournament, in a pretty good match that showed a hint of Lyceum's potential even back then. Down 22-11 after one quarter, Lyceum killed the Stags reserves, 32-18 in the second quarter, to enter halftime up 43-40. A drive by Jan Lacap to begin the fourth gave Lyceum a 65-56 lead, its highest, but San Sebastian finally woke up, and let loose "The Beast" to forge a 72-all tie. Lyceum went scoreless shortly after, allowing the Stags to complete their fourth quarter comeback, 81-74.
Stat to Watch : A large part of the Pirates' success has been the stellar outside shooting of the team, led by Chris Cayabyab, and backed up by guys like Floricel Guevarra and Gian Mallari. Lyceum actually leads the league in makes per game (6.8, one full three over Mapua) and are tops in 3pt % (32.3%). Interestingly enough, SSCR is second in three-point defense, allowing just 23.2%, so something's going to have to give here.
Player to Watch : In the summer, Chris Cayabyab top-scored for the Pirates with 25 points, most coming from inside the arc though (9 of 12) as compared to outside (2 of 8). He'll most likely draw the attention of Calvin Abueva, and whether he can score or not, and then stop Abueva on the other end, will likely determine who wins this game.
Stat to Watch : The Stags possess a deadly combination, and by deadly I mean for themselves. They're third in the league in turnovers committed a game, with 21 (though in fairness to them Lyceum is second, with 22.7), and second lowest in turnovers forced, with just 15.8 a game. That could be the source of some easy points for canny opponents, with the Stags being almost even in terms of turnover points scored (14.3) and allowed (14.5).
Player to Watch : With Jonathan Semira out with his ACL tear, Lyle Antipuesto seems poised to be the Stags' designated sniper. Boasting the best percentage from downtown on the team, having made six of his nine attempts, it wouldn't be impossible for him to get a few open looks while the Pirates defense collapses on guys like Ian Sangalang or Abueva.
Prediction: San Sebastian Stags