San Beda College will collide against Arellano University at 4 p.m. today in Game 1 of the best-of-three finals of National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 92 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
After the Red Lions hurdled past University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas, 78-63, on Tuesday in a knockout match, San Beda coach Jamike Jarin said that the Chiefs are no easy assignment though they’ve swept Arellano twice during the two-game elimination round.
San Beda also scored a 91-81 win over the Chiefs in the playoffs on September 23 to secure the top seeding in the Final Four.
“To be honest even though they were not in the finals for the past two years, this team (Arellano) has the experience and they have the heart too. We were totally hurt with last year’s lost to Letran in the championship. I think that will be our advantage,” Jarin told reporters during the postgame interview.
Jarin said that the Red Lions are actually the underdogs in the series because they’ve lost six players in last year’s roster including starting center Donald Tankoua that was sidelined by injury, “We must be doing something good after ending No. 1 despite what happened.”
Jarin made no promises sweeping the series, “I’m looking for the first 40 minutes then another 40 minutes in the next game for this series. We are struggling that’s why I consider us as the underdogs.”
The Red Lions with a 14-4 win-loss record after the elimination round will be relying on big man Arnaud Noah, AC Soberano, Dan Sara, Robert Bolick, Javee Mocon, Benedict Adamos and rookie Davon Potts in subduing the Chiefs.
“It is going to be a close series even though we defeated them thrice. Jio (Jalalon) is playing one level above the rest. They should not be underestimated,” San Beda team manager Jude Roque told The Manila Times in a phone interview.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, are keen to win their first crown since joining the league eight years ago. This is the second time Arellano entered the NCAA championship round – two years ago, the Red Lions swept the Chiefs in the finals.
Arellano advanced to the championship round after blasting the Mapua Cardinals, 92-80, in their Final Four duel.
The Chiefs will be counting on the talents of Jalalon, Doncee Holts, Kent Salado, Donald Gumaru and Levin Flores when they face the formidable Red Lions.
Arellano coach Jerry Codiñera said that the two-day rest this week was helpful.
In the juniors’ class, San Beda high aims to bag its eighth consecutive title when it takes on Mapua at 1 p.m.