For a decade, San Beda has been the top dog in the NCAA seniors basketball tournament—at least after the double-round of eliminations.
And the Red Lions hope to keep that streak alive on Friday when they take on the pace-setting Arellano U Chiefs at the close of the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball eliminations at The Arena in San Juan City.
San Beda (13-4), this season’s host, initially defeated Arellano U (14-3), 101-86 in their first-round meeting last July 22. A repeat victory in their 4 p.m. showdown will enable the Red Lions to tie the Chiefs at the top and pave a way for a playoff for the top seeding going to the Final Four round.
Veteran forward Javee Mocon knows how crucial the task at hand is.
“Parang it’s a tradition na for San Beda. We’re facing Arellano and it’s gonna be a big test for us. Coming into the semifinals, magiging boost sa amin if we win that game,” he said.
But Arellano U coach Jerry Codiñera admitted the Chiefs had their own motivation to come out victorious.
“Alam niyo naman na ‘yung San Beda, talagang tino-torture nila ang mga kalaban nila for the past decade. It’s always an honor to beat San Beda,” said Codinera.
Clashing in another explosive match at 2 p.m. are Perpetual Help (11-6) and Mapua (11-6) in a virtual playoff for the No. 3 spot.
Serving as the appetizer is the 12 noon showdown between also-ran teams Lyceum (6-11) and winless St Benilde (0-17).
A bigger share of the limelight will fall on the main match, with the Red Lions out to reassert their mastery over the streaking Chiefs.
Mocon, however, knows it’s easier said than done since the Red Lions won’t have injured Cameroon import Donald Tankoua, who pumped in a double-double outing of 28 markers and 14 rebounds during their comeback victory from 22 points down over the Chiefs.
“That’s not gonna happen ulit,” he said. “We gotta learn our lessons na. We just have to start strong like we did against (the Altas) and throughout the game, consistent kami, and we just have to play selfless.” – Jerome Lagunzad
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