MANILA, Philippines -- Four-peat champion San Beda College is seeking to join surprise early leader San Sebastian on top as it collides with Mapua, even as Letran and Lyceum clash for their first victory on Friday in the 90th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Lions turned back the Jose Rizal Bombers, 57-49, in Saturday's opener at the MOA Arena in Pasay City, setting in motion their bid for a fifth straight championship and eighth in the last nine seasons.
A victory over the Cardinals, who absorbed a humiliating 91-57 defeat at the hands of the Perpetual Help Altas Monday, in their 2 p.m. encounter would send the Lions in a tie at the top with the Stags, who hurdled its first two assignments.
While San Beda is heavily favored to win over Mapua, coach Boyet Fernandez warned his boys not to become too complacent.
"We can't judge a team by how they played in their last game or how they performed last season," said Fernandez, whose Lions won last year while the Cardinals finished dead last.
"We need to show all our opponents respect by playing hard," he added.
The Lions are expected to rely again on Nigerian Ola Adeogun after the 6-foot-8 Lagos native bullied his way to 20 points and 14 rebounds that launched not just his team's bid to extend its dynastic reign.
It was also Adeogun who unloaded a 10-point in a critical third quarter run that helped seal the deal for San Beda.
"Ola is our source of strength especially in defense," said Fernandez.
Letran and Lyceum, for their part, are both aiming to bounce back from their first game losses as the two tackle each other at 12 noon.
The Knights blew a 10-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter to lose to the Stags, 85-83, in the inaugurals, while the Pirates couldn't sustain a strong start on their way to a 93-80 defeat at the hands of the Arellano Chiefs last Monday.