San Beda's Anthony Semerad goes for a layup against Lyceum. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Defending champion San Beda College tries to cling to the solo lead and keep its record immaculate as it clashes with a resurgent College of St. Benilde in the NCAA Season 90 men's basketball tournament Monday at the Arena in San Juan.
Leaning on their league-best defense, the Red Lions suffocated the hapless Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 81-55, last week to extend their winning run to five games.
A victory in their 2 p.m. game against the Blazers will hand them their sixth straight win and allow them to stay on top of the league standings.
San Beda, winner of the last four titles and seven of the last eight, hopes to flex its defensive muscle again against a St. Benilde team that is coming off two straight wins, including a 79-72 victory over Mapua last Friday.
"Our offense is our defense, so expect us to use that weapon against them," said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez, whose players have shut down opponents to only 61.6 points per game.
Offensively, the Lions have been drawing strength from Baser Amer, Ola Adeogun, Anthony Semerad and Arthur dela Cruz, who have been averaging double-digits in scoring in their first five games.
But San Beda will be up against a team that has been waxing hot as of late.
"They almost beat us last year, and they look even better this year," said Fernandez of St. Benilde, which has improved to 2-3 after droppings its first three games.
San Sebastian, currently tied at No. 4 with Perpetual Help with identical 3-2 cards, shoots for joint third with Lyceum as it tackles the winless Mapua Cardinals in the 4 p.m. game.