14th Final Four stint clear as day for Lions

September 23, 2019

DEFENDING champion San Beda seeks its 14th consecutive Final Four appearance as it tangles with San Sebastian today in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Not only the Red Lions eye to extend their unbeaten run to 13 games in the 12 noon duel with the Stags.

A victory by San Beda coupled by a College of Saint Benilde loss to Letran in the 2 p.m. match will preserve the Mendiola-based squad’s Final Four streak that started in 2006.

Mapua and Arellano University continue their push to make it to the Final Four in the last game of another tripleheader at 2 p.m.

It may  sound like a broken record, but coach Boyet Fernandez knows that it will be a disappointment for the Lions if they won’t make it to the top two after the eliminations.

But San Beda must first hurdle San Sebastian to formalize its Final Four to start what Fernandez dubbed to be a “hell week”.

”It’s really tough to motivate the boys especially you are a top team without a loss. I just reiterated them that we haven’t achieved everything even though we are 12-0. We still have to win more games to be in the top two and get the twice-to-beat advantage,” said Fernandez after beating Jose Rizal University, 65-47, last Thursday.

Tested by the Bombers in the first 30 minutes of play, Fernandez hopes that his Lions will put aside being individualistic in their plays to achieve their goal.

”Ang sabi ko nga sa kanila, we are not here because four of our guys are in the MVP race. We are here because we are playing as a team. We just have to continue to do things the right way,” said Fernandez.

The Stags saw their five-game winning streak snapped with an 82-99 loss to the Knights to drop at 7-4, a game ahead of the fifth-running Blazers (6-5) in the race for the last semifinal berth.

Aside from San Beda’s Calvin Oftana, Evan Nelle, Donald Tankoua and James Canlas, San Sebastian’s Allyn Bulanadi is among the top five in the season MVP race after the first round.

Currently one of the best snipers in the league, Bulanadi has been the most consistent player for the Stags this season.

With an 8-4 record, Letran is trailing Lyceum of the Philippines University (9-3) in the race for the coveted No. 2 ranking in the semifinals.

A win will not only keep the Knights in step with the Pirates but also to gain the needed cushion against the No. 5 team in the Final Four race.

After a promising start, things went  downhill for St. Benilde, losing five of its last six games to crash out of the top four range.

Facing tremendous odds of advancing to the next round being in ninth place at 3-9, coach Cholo Martin remains upbeat of his Chiefs’ chances.