FIVE-peat champion San Beda College Red Lions will face equally tough University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas for the solo second spot at 4 p.m. today in the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Red Lions and the Altas are in a three-way tie for No. 2 with the Arellano University Chiefs all bearing 4-1 win-loss cards and just a game away from solo leader Letran Knights (5-0). It was Letran that gave San Beda and Perpetual the lone loss in their records.
The Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers with a 3-2 record aim to remain within striking distance as they face the College of Saint Benilde Blazers at 2 p.m.
After their painful defeat to the Knights, the Red Lions under coach Jamike Jarin have bounced back with convincing wins over the Lyceum Pirates, 97-74, last July 21 and the Saint Benilde Blazers, 73-67, last July 23.
“Our loss to Letran was already a thing of the past. What we’re more concerned about now is how we can completely bounce back from it,” said the rookie coach Jarin.
The Altas under coach Aric del Rosario, who were also defeated by Letran 79-71 on July 23, will be using the result of their game against San Beda today as a gauge of their readiness to end a long title drought. Perpetual has not yet won an NCAA basketball crown since joining the league in 1984.
“This game against San Beda is our gauge on how we will do this season, so it will be important in our campaign,” said Del Rosario.
The rookie coach is expected to rely on Nigerian Bright Akhuetie, Prince Eze and 28th Southeast Asian Games standout Earl Scottie Thompson. The 6’7 Akhuettie, who averaged 25 points and 15 boards will be facing fellow Nigerian 6’8 Ola Adeogun of San Beda.
“I know him but on the court, it’s all business,” said Akhuetie of Adeogun, who finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds in his team’s previous game against the Blazers.
In the high school division, the Jose Rizal Light Bombers will take on the CSB-LGHS Greenies at 10 a.m. while six-peat titlist San Beda Red Cubs will collide against the University of Perpetual Help Altalettes at 12 p.m.