DEFENDING champion San Beda College tries to strengthen its hold of second when it faces Mapua Institute of Technology today in the 89th National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament at the San Juan Arena in San Juan City.
The four-peat seeking Red Lions collide with the Cardinals at 6 p.m. while Jose Rizal University tangles against Emilio Aguinaldo College at 4 p.m.
Reigning titlist San Beda Red Cubs also meet Mapua Red Robins at 2 p.m. following the Jose Rizal Light Bombers and Emilio Aguinaldo Brigadiers encounter at 12 noon.
Coach Boyet Fernandez’ Red Lions are currently sharing second spot along with University of Perpetual Help Altas. Both are spurting 3-1 card, just half a game behind solo leader Letran Knights, the only unbeaten team with a clean 4-0 slate.
Fernandez cautioned his wards not to be complacent saying the Cardinals are a dangerous foes with their 1-3 record. He said Mapua with new coach Atoy Co is capable of pulling some surprises citing the Cardinals 104-99 double-overtime win over San Sebastian Stags last July 1.
The Red Lions will again lean on top gunners Arthur de la Cruz, Baser Amir, Rome de le Rosa and Kyle Pascual, who combined for 49 points in their 80-65 win over EAC Generals last Monday.
Nigerian 6’9 center Olaide Adeogun is expected to reassert dominance inside the paint. He finished with 13 rebounds and six points in their recent game against the Generals.
Mapua, on the other hand, hopes to arrest a two-game losing skid and coach Atoy Co remained confident his wards can still rise up to the challenge to be able to stay within striking distance with the leaders. Co will rely on Kenneth Ighalo, Joseph Eriobu, Mark Brana, Jessie Saitanan, Darrel Magsigay and Andrew Estrella.