Red Lions stay positive

‘No pressure on these guys.’

Despite the departure of its key players, San Beda University stays positive and focused on regaining the title when it competes in Season 99 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament.

Red Lions head coach Yuri Escueta told Daily Tribune that they will definitely move on from the exodus of their stars as they seek to regain the crown that they lost won in 2018.

San Beda looked promising after getting beaten by College of Saint Benilde in the Final Four of Season 98 as only the graduating JB Bahio left.

But their promising outlook was shattered when a surprising exodus rocked the Red Lions.

Now, San Beda is facing a talent drain as key players like Justine Sanchez, Tony Ynot, Rhyyan Amsali already packed their bags for different teams.

The 6-foot-5 Sanchez was the first to bolt out followed by Ynot, who opted to join former San Beda Cubs coach Manu Iñigo at Iloilo United Royals in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.

Few days later, it was Amsali’s turn to leave as he joined University of Santo Tomas, which is now handled by Pido Jarencio.

The 37-year-old Escueta, one of the country’s youngest mentors, said it’s business as usual for them.

“We will continue with our practices with the guys we have as we have confidence with them,” Escueta said in a text message.

“It’s our job as coaches to teach the system to whoever players that we have. We still have 24 committed players in our pool.”

Escueta said the departure of their mainstays will create more opportunities for debuting big man Jomel Puno, Collin Dimaculangan and Zane Jalbuena as well as veterans Peter Alfaro, Jacob Cortez, Yukien Andrada, Gab Cometa, Clifford Jopia, Alex Visser and JV Gallego, who will return after nursing a knee injury in Season 98.

“No pressure on these guys,” Escueta said.

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