MANILA, Philippines - San Beda seeks to keep its hold of the lead while San Sebastian hopes to snatch it as the fancied teams collide today in what could be a preview of this year’s finals in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Lions hope to nail their seventh win in eight outings in the 6 p.m. blockbuster encounter against the Stags, the same team they swept in last year’s finals. The Recoletos-based squad is currently tied with Jose Rizal U at 6-2.
San Beda is coming off an eight-day break following postponements of its games caused by heavy downpours and flooding.
The Lions looked sharp in thumping the Bombers in one of the most lopsided games of the season, 62-37, last Aug. 4 that secured their sixth win against a setback.
That rout coupled with Mapua’s shock 61-54 upset over San Sebastian last Monday enabled the Mendiola-based cagers to stay alone on top.
San Beda coach Ronnie Magsanoc knows it will take another inspiring defensive work for them to keep their grip of the lead.
“We need that kind of defense against Jose Rizal for us to have a chance against San Sebastian,” said Magsanoc.
In the other game, JRU tries to bounce back from its forgettable performance the last time out as it faces off with a resurgent Letran side at 4 p.m.
The Knights have won three straight since going 1-3 to improve to a 4-3 slate for solo fifth place.
San Beda is expected to clamp down on San Sebastian’s highly efficient troika of Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang and Ronad Pascual, who averaged a combined 55 points a game.
Abueva, however, will be the marked man as he leads the scoring, rebounding and assists departments with norms of 20.4 points, 17.4 boards and 6.2 assists that put him in prime position to capture his second straight season MVP.