In-form Altas, hot Blazers finally tangle today

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PERPETUAL Help and St. Benilde can only hope the seven-day wait for their duel to push through doesn’t affect their scintillating forms.

Impressive in their previous outings, the Altas and Blazers finally get to test each other’s mettle in the 89th NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

San Sebastian and Lyceum collide in the first game at 4 p.m. in a battle of teams out to snap losing skids.

Today’s double-header was supposed to be played last Aug. 19, but the league postponed the games due to flooding in Metro Manila.

Running third with a 6-2 card, the Altas are looking to follow up their conquest of the Letran Knights in the 6 p.m. duel with the Blazers, who are on a three-game winning run.

A far cry from the St. Benilde squad that lost its first five games by a combined seven points, the Blazers are playing with urgency.

But coach Gabby Velasco is wary of Perpetual Help’s firepower and ability to stifle their opponents’ attack.

The Stags hope to finally get chief playmaker Jamil Ortuoste back in harness as they try to snap a two-game slide. Ortuoste has been sidelined by an ankle injury since early this month and did not play in the 64-83 loss to San Beda.

The Pirates are seeking a first win in their last six games. Lyceum has not won since beating Mapua, 74-59, last July 6.

“It’s going to be tough because Perpetual is also playing at a high level,” said St. Benilde coach Gabby Velasco.

The Altas became the first team to beat the Knights this season, posting a wire-to-wire 80-66 win behind a combined 53 points from rookie sensation Juneric Baloria and bull-strong swingman Nosa Omorogbe.

With Paolo Taha posting 24 points, 10 boards, 4 assists and 3 steals, the Blazers routed the Cardinals, 84-64, last Aug. 17.

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