Mapua Institute of Technology will be seeking for its sixth victory when it plays against University of Perpetual Help System DALTA today in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 92 men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Cardinals, under coach Atoy Co, will face the Altas in the 4 p.m. game while the winless College of Saint Benilde Blazers will take on the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals in the opening match at 2 p.m.
The Cardinals, with a 5-2 win-loss record, will bank on Nigerian Allwell Oraeme’s prowess in the shaded area with the support of Carlos Isit, Andrew Estrella, Justin Serrano, Exeqiel Binteng, Denniel Aguire, Darrell Menina and Christian Bunag.
“We cannot afford to lose that game,” Co, a former PBA star, told The Manila Times in a phone interview on Wednesday. “We just have to rely on our usual strength which is our running and shooting game.”
“Aside from San Beda, the other teams in the upper part of the team standings like Arellano, Letran and Perpetual Help are tied in terms of win-loss record. That’s why we have to do our very best,” he added.
Co said that the goal is to limit Bright Akhuetie’s scoring and rebounding output. Akhuetie had 19 points, two rebounds and two blocks in Perpetual’s 70-53 win over Emilio Aguinaldo College on Tuesday.
“We have to limit his (Akhuetie) production if we can’t stop him. He is really strong and he’s in good playing condition,” said Co. “Aside from Bright, we have to stop also Gab (Dagangon) because he is a good scorer inside.”
Dagangon posted 15 points plus eight rebounds in their match against Emilio Aguinaldo College.
Mapua previously absorbed a 74-85 loss to the unbeaten San Beda College Red Lions last week. The Red Lions are on top of the standings with a 7-0 win-loss record.
The Altas, on the other hand, are aiming to stretch their winning streak to five at the expense of the Cardinals. Besides Dagangon and Akhuetie, The Altas will depend on Jeffrey Coronel, Jack Hao, Rick Gallardo, Prince Eze and Gerald Dizon.
Perpetual and Arellano University are sharing No. 2 spot with identical 6-2 win-loss records.
“We are just hoping to continue playing good defense,” said Perpetual coach Jimwell Gican.
The Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, meanwhile, are hoping to win their last game in the first round when they clash against the College of Saint Benilde Blazers. The Generals are currently No.8 with a 2-6 win-loss record.
Expected to step up for the Generals are Jorem Morada, the 6’7 Cameroonian Hamadou Laminou, Sidney Onwubere, Jerwin Guzman, Dan Corilla, Francis Munsayac and Igee King.
The Blazers, who are hoping to score a win in the last and seventh game of the first round, are pinning their hopes on Christian Fajarito, Yankie Haruna, Gerald Castor, Kendrix Belgica and Edward Dixon.
College of Saint Benilde previously lost 59-70 to Arellano University.