Lions play Knights, seek 15th win.
WITH the twice-to-beat Final Four incentive already in the bag, San Beda seeks to continue its perfect run against bitter rival Letran today in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Unbeaten in 14 games, the Red Lions can go all the way to the championship round by winning all their remaining elimination matches, and one major obstacle to hurdle are the Knights at 2 p.m.
Lyceum of the Philippines University hopes to gain the needed separation over Letran in the race for the No. 2 ranking in the Final Four as it tangles with resurgent Mapua at 4 p.m.
University of Perpetual Help System Dalta and Emilio Aguinaldo College clash in the 12 noon curtain raiser.
For coach Boyet Fernandez, it is all about consistency all-game long for the Red Lions if they want to accomplish a four-peat.
San Beda has trailed at the half in two of the last three games, with Fernandez wanting his troops to start strong and finish stronger, especially with the tougher battles ahead.
The Lions cannot afford another slow start to the Knights, who are seeking to bounce back from last Friday’s 90-97 loss to the Pirates.
“This is a tough season for us because all of the teams are very strong,” said Fernandez.
San Beda also struggled past Letran, 70-66, in their first meeting last Aug. 10.
The Knights, who have not beaten the Lions since winning Game 3 of the 2015 championship series, are sporting a 9-5 record, as they are in dire need of a win to keep their hopes alive of ending up as the No. 2 team after the long double-round eliminations.
Currently sitting second place with a 10-3 record, LPU is determined to finish in the top two, as the runner-up in the last two seasons does not think of San Beda for the meantime.
Pirates mentor Topex Robinson has high respect for the Cardinals, who fully recovered from a 0-5 start as they fully embraced coach Randy Alcantara’s system.
“They are the character of their coach,” said Robinson. “Coach Randy is a known winner. He catapulted the Mapua juniors program to so many championships. Don’t be deceived, palaban iyon. We will learn from this experience.”
The Cardinals have turned around from goners to contenders.
Mapua has found itself tied with San Sebastian in fourth place at 7-6, and next two games against LPU and San Beda this week will make or break the team’s Final Four bid.
The Cardinals hope to be in full strength, as Noah Lugo missed the previous match due to fever and Paolo Hernandez sidelined in the last three contests due to injury.
“We know what they are capable of. You know coach Randy, he is a winning coach and they are on a winning streak, but we don’t have control of what they will play. We have to strive and work together,” said Robinson.