EVEN as they are already assured of a twice-to-beat advantage, four-peat seeking San Beda College Red Lions vowed to play with their best when they collide with the Arellano Chiefs on Monday in the 89th National Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Red Lions with a 13-3 card are also actually seeking to regain share of the top spot with idle Letran, which is pacing with 14-3 card. They will face the Chiefs at 6 p.m. following the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals and Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals battle at 4 p.m.
In the secondary matches, the Emilio Aguinaldo Brigadiers take on the Mapua Red Robins at 12 noon while the reigning titlist San Beda Red Cubs meet the Arellano Braves at 2 p.m.
Coach Boyet Fernandez’ Red Lions are heavily favored over the Chiefs, whom they also trounced 67-54 in the first round of the elimination last July 4.
But the focus in today’s game is the EAC Generals, who are trying to keep their hope of entering the Final Four alive.
Coach Gerry Esplana’s team are toting an 8-8 win-loss slate and can still overtake San Sebastian College Stags (9-7) for the fourth and last Final Four berth. The only other team, which remain in contention for the next round is Arellano Chiefs, who are bearing a 6-9 record.
But a loss by the Chiefs to the Red Lions would also end their bid of clinching a berth to the next round leaving only the Generals and the Stags to contest the remaining slot.
The Generals expressed confidence over cellar dweller Cardinals (2-14) mainly because of their 89-80 win in their first meeting last Aug. 29. But an upset win by the Cardinals is not being ruled out by coach Gerry Esplana citing Mapua’s stunning 81-76 win over San Beda last Oct. 7.
Mapua’s only other victory was also a giant upset over San Sebastian Stags via double overtime, 104-99, last July 9.