Knights go for repeat vs Chiefs WednesdayBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA—Letran tries to stay within striking distance of the leaders when it collides with Arellano to start its second round campaign in the 87th NCAA basketball tournament at the FilOil-Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Running third behind San Sebastian and San Beda with a 7-2 card, the Knights are favored to repeat their first-round conquest of the Chiefs in their 2 p.m. showdown.
St. Benilde battles Mapua in the 4 p.m. game with the highly touted Cardinals hoping to bounce back from a disappointing first round campaign.
The Blazers ended the first round on a bright note, drubbing Emilio Aguinaldo College, 80-68, last week.
But they will have their hands full against the Cardinals, one of the teams tipped to challenge San Beda’s reign this season.
“We can’t be satisfied with our first round record,” said St. Benilde coach Richard del Rosario, whose Blazers nipped the Cardinals, 70-67, in their first round meeting.
Letran is off to its finest nine-game start in three seasons, but coach Louie Alas expects more from his Knights.
“We’re improving but we still have a long way to go (from the Final Four),” said Alas.
Letran will be looking to duplicate its 88-70 rout of Arellano in their first round meeting last July 15.
As surprising as the Knights’ impressive start is the improvement of reed-thin center Raymond Almazan, who is running third in the Most Valuable Player race after the first round.
The 6-foot-7 Almazan averages 8.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and a league-high 3.4 blocks in nine games. Making the Knights more formidable inside the paint is the presence of Jam Cortes, who posted a 12.3-point, 12-rebound average in the first round.
Kevin Alas remains the Knights’ most lethal offensive player, averaging a team-best 16.1 points and five assists.
The Chiefs will pin their hopes on the quartet of Vergel Zulueta (15 points per game), Andrian Celada (14 ppg) and Rocky Acidre (13 ppg) and Jerald Lapuz (10.6 ppg).
But the Chiefs would have to address their rebounding woes if they want to stand a chance against the Knights. Arellano averages a league-worst 33 rebounds a game.
Tags: Andrian Celada , Arellano Chiefs , Basketball , CSB Blazers , Jam Cortes , Jerald Lapuz , Kevin Alas , Letran Knights , Mapua Cardinals , Raymund Almazan , Rocky Acidre , San Beda Red Lions , San Sebastian Stags , Sports , Vergel Zulueta