Bombers, Cardinals tangle for third spot
Regardless of the team they will meet in the next round, neither Jose Rizal University nor Mapua wants to jump into the Final Four off a confidence-deflating defeat.
“Our goal is to play in the Final Four coming from a victory,” said Jose Rizal coach Vergel Meneses.
The Heavy Bombers take on the Cardinals at 4 p.m. Friday at Mall of Asia Arena in a playoff for the No. 3 spot in the semifinals of the NCAA Season 91 basketball tournament.
The winner gets to face second-ranked Letran in the Final Four while the loser battles top seed and defending champion San Beda.
The Lions are gunning for a sixth straight championship armed with a twice-to-beat bonus like the Knights.
“We don’t think much about the other teams because we’re focusing on [this] game,” said Josan Nimes, the wingman who helped the Cardinals rout the Arellano Chiefs in a rubber match for the last semifinal seat last Monday.
The Bombers’ weeklong rest is not expected to help them much since they will be up against the tournament’s hottest team.
Except for a setback against the Lions, the Cardinals have won nine of their last 10 games—including seven straight—behind Nigerian import Allwell Oraeme.
“JRU is a strong team and we cannot take them for granted,” said Oraeme, a serious candidate for the Rookie-MVP plum who had 28 boards and 13 points in the win over the Chiefs.
San Beda’s Sam Ekwe was the last rookie to win MVP honors in 2006.
In juniors’ play, fourth-ranked La Salle Green Hills takes on No. 3 Arellano in a stepladder semifinal for the right to face second seed Mapua. The winner battles reigning “six-peat” champion San Beda in the finals.
The Cubs need only to win twice in the best-of-five finals to keep their title. June Navarro
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