Mapua Institute of Technology and Colegio San Juan de Letran are both aiming for a good start in the second round when they face separate foes today in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 92 men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Cardinals, who ended the first round with a 6-3 win-loss record, will battle the Jose Rizal University (JRU) Heavy Bombers at 2 p.m. while the Knights take on the Lyceum Pirates at 4 p.m.
Mapua coach Atoy Co said the confidence of his wards goes up following their 79-75 win against defending champion Letran at the end of the first round.
“I hope my players stay healthy and keep playing hard. We just have to be consistent playing good defense and offense,” said Co, who is also gunning to duplicate Mapua’s 74-71 win against JRU in the first round on June 25 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Cardinals are No. 4 behind leading teams San Beda College (9-1), University of Perpetual Help System Dalta (8-2) and Arellano University (8-2).
Mapua will lean on the 6’9 Nigerian Allwell Oraeme who posted 20 points and 20 rebounds in their previous match against Letran. Supporting Oraeme are Andrew Estrella, returning Carlos Isit, Darrel Menina and Denniel Aguirre.
The Heavy Bombers, on the other hand, are still upbeat from their win over erstwhile-unbeaten San Beda College (79-73) on August 9. After trailing behind by as much as 16 points in the third period, guard Paolo Pontejos posted 27 points to power their win over the Red Lions.
But JRU coach Vergel Meneses is far from being satisfied, expressing his concern on the team’s lack of consistency. “We can’t enter the Final Four if we do not play consistently. We’re hoping that [the win against San Beda]will be the start,” he said.
The Heavy Bombers possess a 4-5 win-loss record.
Letran, meanwhile, seeks to end a two-game losing skid. “First of all, that’s what we are aiming for,” Letran coach Jeff Napa told The Manila Times via phone call. “We need to win and stop the losing skid.”
“I told my players all teams are climbing up and we can’t afford to be left out in the cellar,” he added. “We need to be more consistent and at the same time play our usual game.”
The Knights will be banking on Rey Nambatac, McJour Luib, Jerrick Balanza, John Calvo, Jomari Sollano and Felix Apreku. Letran finished the first round at No. 5 with a 5-4 win-loss record.
Lyceum will rely on Wilson Baltazar, Nigerian Mike Nzeusseu, Shaq Alanes, Jesper Ayaay, Aldrin Serafico and Joseph Gabayni. The Pirates hold a 4-5 win-loss record.