Cardinals, Knights try to boost NCAA Final Four drive
MAPUA hopes to stay within Final Four range today, while Letran and Lyceum collide in a match with huge postseason implications in the 92nd NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Clinging precariously to fourth spot with a 6-3 record, the Cardinals face the dangerous Jose Rizal U Heavy Bombers at 2 p.m., before the equally important Letran-Lyceum tussle.
Armed with a 4-5 card, the Bombers go into the clash riding high on their stunning 79-73 upset of the San Beda Red Lions to close out the first round.
Letran finished the first round at No. 5 with a 5-4 mark, but Lyceum can forge a tie with a victory. The Pirates conquered the Knights, 75-72, in their first round meeting on Aug. 5.
The Knights will have their hands full against a Lyceum squad boasting bull-strong center Mike Nzeusseu and rookie guard Ian Alban.
A win against Mapua will go a long way in JRU’s hopes of reaching the Final Four for the second straight season.
JRU coach Vergel Meneses hopes the victory over San Beda will trigger the much-awaited turnaround for the Bombers just like last year when they went on a tear in the middle of the season to snatch a Final Four berth.
“We can’t be at the level of the Final Four teams if we do not play well consistently,” said Meneses.
The Cardinals, who edged the defending champion Knights, 79-75, on Aug 9, are seeking a repeat victory over the Bombers, whom they beat, 74-71, on opening-day on June 25 at Mall of Asia Arena.
While Allwell Oraeme regained his fine form with 20 points and 20 rebounds against the Knights, the Cardinals also got a boost with the return of CJ Isit from a two-week absence due to a finger injury.
The Bombers hope Paolo Pontejos and Tey Teodoro will continue their hot shooting, while Abdul Poutouchi tries to hold his ground against Oraeme, the league’s reigning MVP.
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