Benilde coach Charles Tiu wants to face Letran in NCAA Finals

Charles Tiu CSB Blazers NCAA Season 98 Final Four

CSB Blazers coach Charles Tiu during the NCAA Season 98 men’s basketball Final Four against the San Beda Red Lions. NCAA PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—After ending the school’s 20-year drought in the finals, College of St. Benilde head coach Charles Tiu made one thing clear: The Blazers want defending champion Letran next.

Tiu and the Blazers are eager to get back at the Knights, who swept them in the elimination round.

“I’m not saying Lyceum’s not going to win but I really think we’re going to end up seeing Letran. I said it before, I hope I see Letran in the finals because that means we made it to the finals,” said Tiu after their emotional 62-61 win over San Beda in the Final Four on Tuesday.

“We need to be physical against Letran. Everybody knows they’re the most physical team, they’re the bullies out here. This was a good test for us, if we can stand our ground, we’d have a chance,” he added.

In their second-round clash against the Knights, the Blazers lost, 74-66, on November 5.

Letran is playing Lyceum as of posting time. The Knights, who own a twice-to-beat against the Pirates, are one win away from returning to the finals where they are gunning for a third consecutive crown.

Tiu made it clear that he is not underestimating the third-seed Lyceum which finished the elimination round with a 12-6 record.  

“We’re here, we’re expecting Letran to win but if it’s Lyceum, so be it. We’re just trying our best to prepare for the Finals,” he explained.

For Will Gozum, the league’s frontrunner for Season 98 MVP, whoever his team will face on the big stage won’t make any difference.

“No preference. Whoever wins, go. We’ll just fight. Records don’t bother me,” said the big man after finishing with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.

For the record, while the Blazers are 0-2 against the Knights this season, they are unbeaten against the Pirates.