All eyes on the Blazers

Nathaniel Sevilla
University of Perpetual Help's Nathaniel Sevilla gets sandwiched by Ryan Arenal and Maq Dionisio of Jose Rizal University in this action during their previous game in the 95th NCAA men's basketball wars. The Altas try to end a three-game skid when they face the Arellano University Chiefs in Tuesday's action at The Arena in San Juan. (Photo courtesy of Dennis Abrina)

COLLEGE of Saint Benilde seeks to set a new record for its best start in school history as it tangles with San Sebastian today in the NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

The Blazers have to grind it out for victories in the first three games and are expected to meet a tough challenge from the Stags, who are eyeing to get back on the winning track after suffering back-to-back defeats against last year's finalists in the 4 p.m. contest.

In other games, a well-rested Letran guns for its fifth consecutive win as it clashes with winless Mapua at 12 noon, while Arellano University and University of Perpetual Help System Dalta collide at 2 p.m.

Matching its best start since going 3-0 in 2005, St. Benilde is hanging on the coattails of defending champion San Beda, which is undefeated in four starts.

Coming off a rugged 71-67 win over the Cardinals last Thursday, coach TY Tang is simply glad that the Blazers' improvement in their game has been showing.

"I think they are more emotional this time around. There's a lot of lessons, especially coming out of our last season. The experience, the maturity. Playing their roles and responsibilities, they come to understand, and the solidarity," said Tang, who hopes to steer St. Benilde to its first Final Four stint since 2002.

Last week was a tough one for San Sebastian, which lost to Lyceum of the Philippines University and San Beda in succession to drop to an even 2-2 record.

RK Ilagan hopes to rediscover his old form to back up Allyn Bulanadi for the Stags, as the Tondo native could only average 1.5 points in those two losses.

Just like the Blazers, the Knights are still finding ways to become a team that has a potential to beat the league's powerhouses.

"Hinahanap pa namin yung perfect combinations namin para makakuha ng magandang panalo," said coach Bonnie Tan after Letran overcame a tough Emilio Aguinaldo College side, 91-89, a week ago.

"Talagang yung convincing win, 'di pa makuha, but again, we're still learning," he added.

The week-long rest, which Tan was eagerly looking forward for, will definitely help the Knights as they try to continue their rise from a season-opening defeat to the Pirates.

The only team which has yet to taste a victory this season, Mapua hopes to continue to march on and give coach Randy Alcantara his first collegiate win.

The Chiefs will enter their match-up with the Altas very inspired, as they hope to ride the momentum of last Friday's 86-77 romp of the Generals, handing their new coach Cholo Martin a breakthrough after three successive defeats.

Now feeling the pinch of not having last season's MVP Prince Eze around, Perpetual Help has lost three matches after opening the season with a narrow win over Mapua.