San Beda College and San Sebastian College-Recoletos battle it out for the remaining finals slot when the two teams collide today in the last knockout game of the stepladder semifinals of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 93 basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Red Lions and the Golden Stags square off at 3:30 p.m., with the winner getting the right to face Lyceum of the Philippines University, which earned an outright berth to the best-of-three championship series after sweeping the double-round eliminations.
San Beda is set to shake off rust following a long 19-day layoff, with its last outing a painful 105-107 loss to Lyceum on October 19.
With the stinging defeat that resulted in a 16-2 win-loss record, the Mendiola-based squad was not able to finish the preliminary round as the top seed for the first time in 11 years, paving the way for a stepladder playoffs.
San Sebastian, meanwhile, is riding the crest of crucial twin wins against Colegio de San Juan de Letran and Jose Rizal University two weeks ago.
The Stags repulsed the tenacious Knights, 74-69, in the first game of the semifinals on October 24 before handing the Heavy Bombers an 85-73 beatdown on October 27 to arrange a duel with the Lions.
Facing the most dominant team in the oldest collegiate league for the past decade, San Sebastian mentor Egay Macaraya vowed that they will go all out especially on the defensive end.
“We have to play good defense on them because they (San Beda) are a good offensive team. They have tall players and a quality import,” said Macaraya.
“We’ll just try our very best. What’s important is that we are already here on this stage,” added the coach.
The two teams are expected to rely on their versatile forwards, with Javee Mocon leading the charge for San Beda and Michael Calisaan carrying the fight for San Sebastian.
Mocon averaged a team-high 12.5 points on top of 10.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists in the Lions’ elimination round campaign while Calisaan averaged 24.5 markers and nine boards in the Stags’ triumphant run in the semifinals so far.
San Beda won twice against San Sebastian in the eliminations, pulling off a 76-67 win in the first round and a 76-65 victory in the second round.