NCAA: Knights take on resurgent Cards Tuesday
LETRAN tries to tighten its grip of top spot against a rejuvenated Mapua squad today even as Jose Rizal U seeks to breathe life to its Final Four hopes in the 91st NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Knights shoot for win No. 12 in the 4 p.m. clash with the Cardinals whose coach Atoy Co serves the first of a two-game ban for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Co was ejected for the second time this season in the Cardinals’ win over Lyceum last Friday, prompting league commissioner Bai Cristobal to slap him with a stiff punishment.
The Cardinals are in the midst of their best stretch of the season, riding high on a four-game winning run that included wins over Perpetual Help and Jose Rizal U. Josan Nimes is also expected to return from a hamstring problem, joining CJ Isit back into the lineup.
“Mapua is already a strong team and getting stronger each game,” said Letran coach Aldin Ayo.
With the Final Four race down to six teams, the Heavy Bombers are also hard pressed to pick up a victory in the 2 p.m. duel with the St. Benilde Blazers.
JRU has been getting big games from Tey Teodoro and Paolo Pontejos over the past two weeks, but coach Vergel Meneses expects the rest of the team to play their hearts out.
“They (players) know the importance of our next games,” said Meneses. “We cant afford to lose anymore so I hope everyone steps up.”
The Knights survived the College of St. Benilde Blazers, 79-69, last Thursday with 5-foot-5 Mark Cruz once again taking charge down the stretch.
The Cardinals are knocking on the Final Four door with an 8-5 slate. They remain the only unbeaten team in the second round with their four-game run also the longest streak under Co, a former Cardinal and two-time NCAA MVP.
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