Co-leaders San Beda College Red Lions and Arellano University Chiefs will stake their shares of the top spot when they face separate foes today at the start of the second round elimination of the 90th National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
Both the four-peat champion Red Lions and the Chiefs are carrying identical 7-2 win-loss slates after the first round elimination. The winner in today’s match will remain at the top while the loser drop to solo second.
It will be a battle between the team at the top and the team at the bottom as the Red Lions take on the Mapua Cardinals at 2 p.m. In the second match, the Arellano Chiefs face the San Sebastian College Stags at 4 p.m.
In the high school division, the San Beda Red Cubs battle the Mapua Red Robins at 12 p.m. while the Arellano Braves collide against the San Sebastian Staglets at 6 p.m.
Nigerian Ola Adeogun is expected to bounce back after spending much time on the bench in their game against Letran that ended with a 53-65 loss. Baser Amer, who missed the first NCAA All-Stars game on Saturday, is expected to also lead the Mendiola-based squad against the Cardinals, who are locked in a three-way tie from seventh to ninth spots with Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals and San Sebastian Stags. All three teams are bearing similar 3-6 cards.
“We’re starting out fresh and we hope to get on a kind of rhythm that we want in making it to the Final Four,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez.
Arellano Chiefs head coach Jerry Codiñera, on the other hand, said that they hope to sustain the kind of momentum they had in the first round.
“If we can at least sustain, if not better, the way we played especially on how we score in transition, we’ll have a chance of finally making it to the Final Four,” said Codiñera, who is eyeing to lead Arellano to its first Final Four appearance since entering the league five years ago.
Codiñera, who began coaching the Chiefs only this season, succeeded in transforming his wards into the league’s best offensive team with an average of 82.6 points a game.