Altas, Bombers try to boost semis bidBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
With Letran hot on their heels, Perpetual Help and Jose Rizal U hope to move a step closer to the Final Four when they clash with separate rivals today in the 88th NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Altas seek payback against the Arellano Chiefs in the 4 p.m. duel, before the Heavy Bombers collide with lowly Lyceum Pirates.
Tied at third, both Perpetual and JRU own 8-5 records and seek enough moving room against streaking Letran, whose victory over St. Benilde last Monday boosted them to 8-7.
After a fiery start, Perpetual Help has cooled off winning just two of its last five games.
But one thing going for the Altas is the return to form of Earl Scott Thompson, who has averaged 15 points in the last two outings after struggling in the first two games of the second round.
The Altas can also count on ace shooter Jett Vidal, who leads the team in scoring with 17.8 points.
Arellano will go into the game, buoyed by a 59-57 conquest of Mapua last Thursday. The Chiefs also subdued the Altas, 63-54, in their first round meeting last Aug. 6.
Rookie John Pinto drilled in the game-winning shot with 2.7 seconds remaining against Mapua, keeping the Chiefs’ slim hopes of reaching the next round alive. Pinto’s string of strong performances actually started in the win against the Altas where he finished with 15 points and grabbed 13 boards.
“He’s been playing well and we can always count on him,” said Arellano coach Koy Banal of his prized guard from Davao.
Jose Rizal U will be looking to bounce back from a lethargic showing against San Beda.
Expected to carry the fight for the Bombers is guard Nate Matute, who was held scoreless in the clash with San Beda.