MANILA, Philippines - Perpetual Help tries to sustain its impressive start in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament as it takes on St. Benilde today, looking for at least a share of the lead even as Nigerian Ola Adeogun makes his much-awaited debut for San Beda against lowly Emilio Aguinaldo College at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Altas, led by Nigerians Femi Babayemi and Nicolas Omorogbe, have been quite impressive in the early going of the tournament, humbling early favorites Letran and San Beda, which it upset in a thrilling 88-87 overtime win last week.
The Altas’ defeat came at the hands of the Stags, last year’s losing finalists. But having played the league’s top four teams, the Altas are tipped to hurdle their remaining assignments in the first round of the double-round elims among 10 teams.
They play the Blazers, tied with three others at 2-3, in the 6 p.m. main game.
Perpetual Help coach Aric del Rosario, however, said “there are no easy games in the NCAA.”
Aside from the two Nigerians, del Rosario also hopes to draw superb games from Jett Vidal, Earl Thompson, Chrisper Elopre, Joel Jolangco, Anthony Paulino, Justine Alano, George Allen and Harold Arboleda.
The 6-8 Adeogun finally gets to see action after serving a four-game suspension for misconduct late last year, making the Lions the heavy favorites against the Generals in their 4 p.m. encounter.
“We’ve somehow survived our first four games without him (Adeogun) and his presence will be a big addition and boost to the team,” said San Beda coach Ronnie Magsanoc.
The Lions are out to break off a four-way tie for first with the Altas, the San Sebastian Stags and the erstwhile solo leader Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers against an EAC side that has dropped three of its first four games.
In the absence of Adeogun, the Mendiola-based squad won three of its first four games, including a pulsating 59-53 victory over St. Benilde Monday.
EAC, meanwhile, hopes to snap a three-game skid and get back into the thick of things although the Generals will have a tougher time this time in containing Adeogun.