San Beda College and Arellano University are on a hunt for an automatic finals berth when they clash against their respective foes today in the Final Four opener of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 92 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Red Lions, who secured the top seeding at the expense of the Chiefs last Tuesday, will be facing the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas in the 2 p.m. game followed by the Arellano University vs Mapua Institute of Technology match at 4 p.m.
With a 14-4 win-loss record after the elimination round, San Beda Red Lions coach Jamike Jarin said the goal is not to allow their opponent to arrest their momentum.
“We have the momentum right now after winning two straight games against Arellano, but we can’t put our guards down against Perpetual. We have to keep playing as a team to reach the finals,” Jarin told The Manila Times in a phone interview.
Without Donald Tankoua, the Red Lions struggled in the earlier part of the second round but recovered in the later part winning their last four games.
Center Benedict Adamos, Davon Potts, Robert Bolick, Roldan Sara and AC Soberano will be leading San Beda’s charge.
Perpetual Help is expected to have solid defense against San Beda particularly in the shaded lane and three-point territory. Altas coach Jimwell Gican said his wards are in good spirit though their foes are armed with a twice to beat advantage.
“We just have to take it one game at a time,” Gican told The Times. “Our goal is to win the first game before thinking of the other game. That’s doable I believe, but we can’t blink against San Beda.”
The Altas will be relying on Gab Dagangon, Bright Akhuetie, guard Jeffrey Coronel, Prince Eze and Flash Sadiwa in their battle against the Red Lions. Perpetual Help bagged the last Final Four slot with an 11-7 win-loss record.
Arellano coach Jerry Codinera, meanwhile, admitted that he’s worried that Jiovanni Jalalon is nursing a sprained ankle. “Jio will play but he’s not 100 percent,” said Codinera. “We tried to be ready and we’ll treat tomorrow’s game as do-or-die.”
The No.2 Chiefs, with a twice-to-beat advantage, will rely on Kent Salado, Dioncee Holts, Levin Flores and Donald Gumaru as they take on Mapua.
The No. 3 Cardinals under coach Atoy Co will be banking on the talents of last year’s Most Valuable Player Allwell Oraeme, Darell Menina, CJ Isit and Andrew Estrella as they try to subdue the Chiefs.