Stags remain NCAA underdogs

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    WHILE he accepted an offer to serve as one of the assistant coaches of new National University coach Goldwin Monteverde in the UAAP, San Sebastian College tactician Egay Macaraya remains very much focused on the task of steering the Golden Stags in the 96th NCAA basketball tournament set to kick off in July.

    True enough, Macaraya has hit the ground running for what he termed as an “underdog” San Sebastian crew in its bid to end an 11-year title drought.

    “Yes (he is now a deputy at NU). We will do our best to have a good UAAP season. No other way but up,” Macaraya told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.

    “So far, we’re accepting tryouts (in San Sebastian) and also preparing for NCAA Season 96. We’re excited but we’re still the underdog,” he added.

    The all-Filipino Stags reached the Final Four of the last NCAA cage wars with an 11-7 card after the eliminations.

    San Sebastian, however, was foiled by eventual champion Letran in their stepladder semifinals duel.

    The Recto-based squad lost prolific scorer Allyn Bulanadi, who was tabbed by Alaska in the pro league’s special Gilas Pilipinas draft last December, and Alvin Capobres, who was selected by Magnolia, to graduation.

    In what will be his fifth year calling the shots for the Stags, Macaraya is pinning his hopes on gunner RK Ilagan and energetic big man JM Calma to lead the team next season.

    The 5-foot-8 Ilagan averaged 14.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists while Calma was good for 8.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

    “We’re still the SSC-R team but RK and JM will be a big factor for us,” offered Macaraya.