Lions tackle Blazers, seek share of leadBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
DEFENDING champion San Beda guns for a share of top spot even as Mapua and Letran seek to get their campaigns back on track when they collide today in the 88th NCAA basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
A victory in the 4 p.m. duel with St. Benilde will allow San Beda to gain top spot along with idle San Sebastian, Jose Rizal U and Perpetual Help, which all tote 3-1 records.
The Knights, one of the favorites this season, are hoping to end a three-game slide against the Cardinals at 6 p.m.
The Red Lions are coming off a gut-wrenching 87-88 overtime loss to the Altas last Thursday in what will go down as one of the most exciting games in the league in recent years.
San Beda guard Baser Amer banked in a miracle of a shot from the three-point line on the other end of the floor at the buzzer to force overtime, but critical blunders in the endgame eventually doomed the Red Lions, who blew a four-point lead with 35 seconds remaining in the extra session.
San Sebastian’s Nigerian center Ola Adeogun will serve the final game of his four-game ban against the Blazers.
St. Benilde is in the midst of an up-and-down campaign that included wins over Lyceum and Letran and losses to San Sebastian and Mapua.
The Blazers though have a solid core with transferee Joel Tolentino and guard Carlo Lastimosa making their presence felt.
Mapua dropped its last game against Lyceum, 74-78, ending a two-game winning run that came after the Cardinals’ opening-day loss to the Bombers.
After making a strong statement with their opening-day triumph over the Stags, 80-74, the Knights bowed to the Altas, the Arellano Chiefs and the Blazers in succession.
The Knights’ offense revolve around Kevin Alas, but coach Louie Alas also expects big men Jam Cortes and Jonathan Belorio to share the burden on both ends of the floor.
Mapua could suit up rookies Gab Banal, Joseph Eriobu, Jessie Saitanan and Mark Braña against the Knights. The four were earlier declared ineligible for their failure to comply with the residency requirement.
The Cardinals hope to draw another superb effort from big man Mike Parala, who tallied a career-high 29 points in the defeat to Lyceum.