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LPU Pirates rarin’ to step on big stage

MANILA, Philippines — Two wins away from completing a record sweep in the NCAA, Lyceum of the Phl U coach Topex Robinson is making sure the Pirates won’t miss a beat with regard to their Finals preparation against either against San Beda or San Sebastian.

That includes giving his wards the feel of the atmosphere playing in huge venues like the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“I like my players and the whole team to know how it is to play in big games and big venues like this one, I want them to feel the atmosphere,” said Robinson.

LPU has never played a single game in bigger venues outside the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan since it has never made it to the Final Four and placed better than sixth since it entered the league six seasons ago.

The Pirates actually still missed the Final Four this year but barged straight in the Finals with their stirring 18-game sweep of the double-round elims, reducing the semis into a stepladder affair.

The Stags booted out the Letran Knights for the No. 4 spot then edged the Jose Rizal U Bombers to arrange another knockout duel with the defending champion San Beda tomorrow at the MOA Arena in Pasay.

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The winner will take on the Pirates in a best-of-three title series beginning Nov. 10 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“I’m not sure if the team before me played in bigger venues, but in my three years here, this will be the first time we’re playing outside San Juan,” said Robinson, who brought his entire team to watch the Ateneo-UST UAAP match last Saturday.

Robinson also expressed his admiration of Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin and the Eagles, who also moved two wins away from sweeping their side of the elims with a 102-83 rout of the winless Tigers.

“I feel my team and I will learn a lot from what Tab Baldwin has brought to Ateneo,” said Robinson.

Meanwhile, the long 22-day break is the least of the Pirates worries. Since sweeping the elims, they have been holding twice-a-day practice sessions and will step up their preparations by playing a tune-up game with ASEAN Basketball League club Alab Pilipinas today.

“Of course, we all need to be in game shape. But I think it will be how tough you are mentally and psychologically apart from the physical aspects,” said Robinson.

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