San Beda University stakes its spotless slate while Lyceum of the Philippines University shoots for a Final Four berth when they battle separate foes in Season 95 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) seniors basketball tournament today at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
The unbeaten Red Lions (14-0) square off with rival Colegio de San Juan de Letran (9-5) at 2 p.m. while the Pirates (10-3) take on the streaking Mapua University (7-6) at 4 p.m.
In the game day opener at 12 noon, cellar-dwelling Emilio Aguinaldo College (2-11) goes for back-to-back victories to keep its semifinals hopes alive against the skidding University of Perpetual Help System DALTA (3-9).
San Beda seized its 14th consecutive win and 28th overall dating back to last season after pummeling Perpetual, 75-62, last Thursday.
The three-time champion team from Mendiola also mathematically secured a top two spot that guarantees a Final Four twice-to-beat advantage following Lyceum’s 97-90 victory over Letran last Friday.
But veteran coach Boyet Fernandez does not want to see his Lions resting on their laurels.
“This is a very tough season for us because all teams are strong. We’re just lucky that we’re winning against those strong teams,” said Fernandez.
“We all know that Letran has been really playing well. Again, that is a very strong team. It will be tough for us,” added the multi-titled tactician.
San Beda will lean anew on hotshot James Kwekuteye, MVP frontrunner Calvin Oftana, Cameroonian center Donald Tankoua and playmaker Evan Nelle.
For its part, No. 3 Letran is eager to bounce back and inch close to booking a ticket to the next round.
Veteran players Jerrick Balanza, Larry Muyang and Bonbon Batiller will fuel the charge of the Knights.
Meanwhile, No. 2 Lyceum looks for a fifth straight triumph against No. 5 Mapua that will assure the Pirates a semifinal slot.
But young mentor Topex Robinson knows that it is easier said than done as his Lycean cagers face the Cardinals who also are on a four-win streak and eyeing to enter the magic four for the first time this season.
“We know what they’re capable of. For us, we just have to be better versus ourselves. That’s always the challenge for us—not to be contented on where we are right now,” said Robinson.
Jaycee Marcelino, Reymar Caduyac and Cameroonian big man Mike Nzeusseu will lead Lyceum while Laurenz Victoria, Justin Serrano and Christian Buñag will spearhead Mapua.