San Beda College and Arellano University stake their unbeaten slate as the two collide for the solo lead in what could be a sneak peek of the finals in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 92 juniors basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Red Cubs turned back the Mapua Red Robins, 86-84, on Thursday while the Braves routed the Lyceum of the Philippines University, 91-77, last week to extend their streak to seven while keeping their grip of the lead.
But after their 11 a.m. duel, only one will stay unscathed.
San Beda, which is eyeing an unprecedented eighth straight championship, will be the slight favorite being the league’s best in both offense and defense compared to Arellano, last year’s losing finalist.
In seven games, the Cubs have averaged 94.7 points a game while holding down their opponents to just 72.4 points, both league highs.
The Braves, for their part, are No. 2 in scoring with a norm of 92.1 points while being eighth in the league in points allowed with 77.6 points.
That is why San Beda coach JB Sison thinks defense will decide it.
“It’s all about stopping your opponent because whichever team plays the better defense will win,” said Sison.
Arellano mentor Tylon Darjuan agrees.
“We need to slow them down if we want to have a chance,” said Darjuan, whose charges came a game close to snatching last year’s crown.
Sam Abu Hijle has been leading the way for the Cubs with averages of 14.4 points and 10.3 rebounds while Joshua Tagala comes in second with averages of 12.9 points and 7.6 boards an outing.
For Arellano, it has four players averaging in double figures – Guillmer dela Torre (17.3), Lars Sunga (13.4), Carlo Abadeza (11.9) and Aaron Fermin (11).
University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, on the other hand, hopes to ride the crest of one of its best starts in years after winning four of their first seven games as it tangles with an unpredictable Lyceum (3-4) at 12:45 p.m.
In the only other game, San Sebastian College and Emilio Aguinaldo College aim to barge into the win column after losing their first seven games as the two face off at 2:30 p.m.