Altas in key match vs leading LionsBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SAN BEDA seeks payback against a Perpetual Help that can no longer afford to drop another game in a crucial 88th NCAA basketball tournament encounter tonight at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Already assured of the top seeding after San Sebastian lost to Jose Rizal U last Thursday, the Lions hope to put a dent on the Altas’ Final Four ambitions in their 6 p.m. clash.
Aside from targeting a ninth straight victory, the Lions also hope to exact revenge against the Altas, who forged a stunning 79-78 overtime victory in the first round.
The Altas are in the thick of a four-team fight for the three remaining Final Four berths, along with the Stags, Jose Rizal U Bombers and the Letran Knights, who face dangerous Emilio Aguinaldo College at 4 p.m.
Pulling off a repeat of their first round trick against the Lions will be easier said than done for the Altas with San Beda in sharp form. The Altas actually have a tough schedule remaining with the Stags as their next assignment.
“We have to play better than in the first round when we met them (Lions) if we want to have a chance,” said Perpetual Help coach Aric del Rosario in Filipino. “It will be difficult because we have to contain many players.”
The Lions’ ruthless form saw them roll past the Knights and Bombers in the second round that enabled them to seal the No. 1 seed with two games to spare.
Jett Vidal, the Altas’ leading scorer with close to 18 points an outing, is expected to play despite suffering a cut under his jaw that forced him to leave the game in the first of the 64-53 win over Lyceum last Tuesday.
Getting a big lift from center Raymond Almazan and with Kevin Racal raising his game over the last two weeks, the Knights catapulted themselves back into Final Four contention.
But the Generals are also heavily motivated by the thought of not only spoiling the Knights’ Final Four bid but also adding another milestone to their most successful season in the league yet.
The seven-win total of the Generals is already two more than their record last season.