AGE-OLD rivals Colegio de San Juan de Letran and San Beda University collide at 3 p.m. today, September 30, in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 98 men's basketball tournament at the FilOil EcoOil Center.

The three-peat seeking Letran is starting to find its rhythm this season as the defending champion has notched two straight wins including a 67-62 triumph over Mapua University last Tuesday to improve to a 3-1 slate, second in the team standings.

The Knights, however, did not leave that highly-physical game unscathed as two of their key players were ejected from the game. Brent Paraiso was thrown out of the match for committing an "act of violence" while Louie Sanggalang incurred two technical fouls which led to his automatic expulsion.

Paraiso was seen intentionally hitting Cardinals' Adrian Nocum at the back of his head with his elbow while Sanggalang got booted out after getting his second technical foul for taunting Mapua's Arvin Gamboa in the waning seconds of the contest.

Citing league rules, the NCAA shall impose one-game suspensions each for Paraiso and Sanggalang and thereby they won't be able to play for the defending champions against the Red Lions today.

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Paraiso has been leading Letran in scoring with a 12.75 points per game clip on top 3.5 rebounds, 2.75 assists and 2.5 steals average.

Sanggalang, on the other hand, has been the Knights' enforcer down low. He currently norms 9.5 markers and 10.25 boards per game.

In their absence, veteran guard Fran Yu is expected to lead the charge for Letran.

The fourth-running San Beda team, meanwhile, has yet to find its footing in the tournament under new head coach Yuri Escueta.

"While they have a new coach, their players from last season are still here," Knights head coach Bonnie Tan said of the Red Lions.

"Whatever Mapua gave us, we're expecting that San Beda, from its fans to players, will double its efforts to compete against us."

The Red Lions are coming off a 78-71 win over the San Sebastian Golden Stags last Wednesday.

San Beda was supposed to play last Sunday against the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta but the game was canceled due to Super Typhoon "Karding."

Hence, this will be San Beda's first game in 10 days and the Mendiola-based school, led by star guard James Kwekuteye, is undoubtedly motivated to win, especially against rival Letran, which the Red Lions have not beaten since Game Two of the Season 95 NCAA Finals in 2019.

Team Standings: Saint Benilde (4-1), Lyceum (4-1), Letran (3-1), Arellano (3-3), San Beda (2-2), San Sebastian (2-2), JRU (2-2), Perpetual Help (2-3), Mapua (1-4), EAC (0-4)

Games Today: (FilOil EcoOil Center) 12 p.m. Mapua vs JRU 3 p.m. Letran vs San Beda