FIVE-peat champion San Beda College Red Lions battle last year’s runner-up Arellano University Chiefs in a bid to gain share of top spot at the end of the first round elimination today in the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Red Lions, toting a 7-1 slate can tie idle Letran if they win over the Chiefs at 4 p.m. while title contender Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers are aiming for a possible tie at second as they tangle against current no. 3 University of Perpetual Help Altas at 2 p.m.
Letran completed its first round elimination assignment with an 8-1 record, thus a win by coach Jamike Jarin’s Red Lions today can forge a two-way at the top of the standing going into the second round of the eliminations, dropping the Arellano Chiefs to fifth spot.
The Chiefs of coach Jerry Codinera are carrying a 5-3 card in a tie with the Heavy Bombers at the fourth position.
San Beda is in a five-game winning streak since losing to Letran, 80-93, on July 16, while the Arella¬no Chiefs’ last victim was St. Benilde Blazers, 85-73, on Friday.
”We’re still going to run but we’ll still try to maximize some of our advantages,” said San Beda coach Jamike Jarin.
A win by San Beda coupled by a victory by Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers in the first game would also forge a two-way at second among the Altas and the Bombers at similar 6-3 record, making the second round an interesting battle among six teams involving also no. 6 Mapua Cardinals with a 4-5 slate.
The other four teams including College of St. Benilde Blazers, San Sebastian College Stags, Lyceum of the Philippines Pirates and Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals ended the first round in a tie with similar 2-7 card.
All four in the lower half of the standing have still a chance of making it to the Final Four but the possibility is very remote considering their performances in their respective first nine matches, while those at upper half are expected to strive further in search for a semis berth.