Earning the pennant in the NCAA seniors basketball elimination round has become a tradition for powerhouse San Beda.
The Red Lions seek nothing less than to sustain that trend for the 11th straight year while try to e-assert their mastery over the Arellano U Chiefs in their battle for the top seeding on Tuesday at The Arena in San Juan City.
Game time is at 4 p.m. with San Beda out to extend its dominance over Arellano U after sweeping their head-to-head match-ups in the preliminary round, including a 91-81 win last Friday.
The impressive victory enabled the Red Lions to tie the Chiefs at the close of the double round of eliminations with similar 14-4 cards, paving the way for a playoff match for the No. 1 spot ahead of the Final Four round.
Although they are already assured of a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals, San Beda’s second-year coach Jamike Jarin wants his charges to gain an added momentum.
“You always want to get into the playoffs on a high note. That’s enough motivation for us to play our hearts out again,” he said.
The winner of the playoff match will earn the right to face No. 4 Perpetual Help. The loser will square off with No. 3 Mapua in the semifinals stage that gets going on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
While they are certainly hard-pressed to gain some psychological edge against their possible finals foe, Arellano U coach Jerry Codiñera expects a big bounce-back performance from the Chiefs.
“It would be nice to play in the Final Four coming from a win,” he said.
Although they appear to have the Chiefs’ number, Jarin admitted the Red Lions remain cautious.
“This team (Arellano U) is just too good. Sometimes there will be stretches that they will miss, but there are stretches they won’t make mistakes,” he stressed, adding Chiefs guards Jio Jalalon and Kent Salado “are the best 1-2 guard in the entire college.”
Even without Cameroon big man Donald Tankoua, the Red Lions were able to find enough ways to win, with versatile Javee Mocon starring in their last two outings with game-averages of 16.5 points and 14 rebounds. – Jerome Lagunzad
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