DEFENDING champion San Beda and Lyceum of the Philippines University dispute the No. 1 ranking in the Final Four in a potential Finals preview of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament today at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Tipped to cross paths in the last dance, the Red Lions and the Pirates are expected to play with fire and intensity when they take the floor in the lone match at 4 p.m.
San Beda, with a league-best 15-1 card, has University of Perpetual Help System Dalta as its remaining opponent in eliminations, while LPU, sporting a 15-2 record in second, is wrapping up its regular season campaign. Both teams have already been assured of twice-to-beat semifinal incentives.
The Pirates, swept by the Lions in the Finals last year, defeated the Lions, 73-66, in their first meeting last Aug. 21.
San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez wants his troops to remain sharp as ever when they face either Letran or Perpetual Help in the Final Four.
“We always consider our remaining elimination round games as playoff games,” said Fernandez.
“We know that teams in the Final Four are really strong. We are happy of achieving our goal right now in making it in the top two by having the twice-to-beat advantage. But still, we still have two games to go. We have to be ready.”
Unlike last year where they went perfect in the double-round eliminations, the Pirates lost to the Altas and the Knights in the second round.
Those defeats were a learning process for LPU, which hopes to pull it through this time around after last season’s championship debacle.
For coach Topex Robinson, facing the league’s most successful team in the Lions is such a big deal for the Pirates.
“That’s a big opportunity to learn and grow again. It’s a huge, huge, program that really give ourselves a chance to learn from them. I’m always excited every time I play against Javee (Mocon) and Robert (Bolick),” said Robinson.