DEFENDING champion San Beda College seeks for a back-to-back win and an early solo lead when they take on equally tough Lyceum of the Philippines University today in the 89th National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
After escaping with a 71-70 win over host College of St. Benilde, coach Boyet Fernandez is expected to make necessary adjustments for the Red Lions when they collide against the Pirates at 6 p.m.
Jose Rizal University faces Mapua Institute of Technology in the first game at 4 p.m.
Fernandez said after the game that there are still many things to improve for the 17-time champion Red Lions but expressed confidence his wards can overcome the challenge.
“I think everything will be okay as the tournament moves on.
But this is really a learning lesson for us. As I said all teams in the league now are improving, so we have to play our best all the time,” said Fernandez.
A win by the Red Lions today would enable them to grab solo leadership, dropping Letran College to second. Letran won over San Sebastian College, 74-69, also during the opening day at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Besides Art dela Cruz, San Beda will also rely on skipper Ryusei Koga, Nigerian Olaide Adeogun, Filipino-Americans Rome Adler de la Rosa and Kyle Pascual, Filipino-Australian twins Anthony Paul Semerad and David John Semerad, and ace guard Baser Amer.
Coach Bonnie Tan of Lyceum vowed they will put up a strong fight to be spearheaded by John Azores, Wilson Baltazar, Mark Anthony Francisco, Shane Ko, Daniel Garcia, Andrei Mendoza, Aziz Faycal Mboko Issah, Paul Soliman and Jeremiah Taladua.