MANILA, Philippines -- Arellano University and College of St. Benilde are set to collide on Friday in the 90th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Chiefs, turned back the Letran Knights, 63-62, will attempt to close in on tournament leader San Beda College, while the Blazers will try to move up to third place.
Arellano is currently at second with a 6-2 win-loss record, or just a game behind San Beda (7-1).
The Chiefs’ Keith Agovida recently churned out a 14-point effort against Letran, although coach Jerry Codinera thinks it will be defense that will carry them through.
"We need to limit, if not stop completely, their top three scorers and I'm referring to [Paolo] Romero, [Juan Paolo] Taha and [Jonathan] Grey," Codinera said.
Romero, Taha and Grey should be at the top of Arellano’s concerns as they have averaged 15.71, 13.43 and 11.57 points, respectively, helping fuel the Blazers' resurgence.
The trio led Benilde on a four-game streak after starting the season with three straight defeats.
For his part, Benilde coach Gabby Velasco, said they need to slow down the Chiefs’ fast-paced offense. The run-and-gun style of play has put Arellano ahead in terms of per-game average with 84.5 points.
"Arellano is the only team this season averaging above the 80-point mark and we need to do something about," said Velasco.
Jose Rizal University will also aim to come out of a three-way logjam at No. 3 with Benidle and Perpetual Help with identical 4-3 cards as it clashes with an unpredictable Emilio Aguinaldo College at 2 p.m.
The Bombers are riding the crest of their 99-98 triple overtime triumph over the Chiefs a week ago but should face a tougher Generals, who snapped out of a five-game skid with an 89-78 win over the Mapua Cardinals last Monday.