(Mall of Asia Arena)
3 p.m. -- Individual Awarding Ceremony
4 p.m. – SBU vs LPU (Men Finals)
WITH CJ Perez back in harness, Lyceum of the Philippines University hopes to make the NCAA men's basketball championship more interesting as it tries to foil San Beda from completing a three-peat today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Cashing in on Perez's one-game suspension, the Red Lions zeroed in on a record 22nd crown with a 73-60 win over the Pirates in last week's Finals opener.
“It could’ve been the other way around if we had our best player in our team,” said LPU coach Topex Robinson.
“San Beda beat us. I don’t want to take away the credit from San Beda because they played well and scouted as well,” he added.
Perez – who was instrumental for turning the Pirates around from perennial also-rans to title contenders – was suspended for his failure to notify the league of applying for the next month's PBA Rookie Draft.
The Red Lions go for the jugular in Game 2 set at 4 p.m.
Despite the huge psychological advantage, San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez remains cautious about his team's chances of closing out the series.
“I have so much respect for LPU, I have so much respect for coach Topex (Robinson) as a coach so I know they will be back,” said Fernandez.
The Pirates had a hard time without Perez in the opener, as the Lions led by as much as 25 points. LPU put up a fight and was able to trim down the deficit to just 10 but time was not on its side.
“With CJ there, if you look at it, we only beat them by 13 so idagdag mo 18 ni CJ, talo pa kami,” said Fernandez, referring to Perez’s 18.7 points per game average this season.
As the Pirates now back at full strength, the Mendiola-based cagers need to elevate their game.
“You add CJ there, wow, that will be a different and strong team,” said Fernandez.
“We just have to be ready because we know they’ll be back. They were a different LPU in the first half, but third and fourth (quarters), that’s the LPU team.”
In the juniors Finals, CSB-LSGH shoots for its second straight title against Mapua at 1 p.m.