MANILA, Philippines – Jose Rizal University (JRU) will aim to solidify its hold of the third spot as it takes on a dangerous Letran side in the NCAA Season 90 tournament Friday at The Arena in San Juan.
In another game, the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde will look to move up the ladder by tackling Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC).
After a slow start, the Heavy Bombers have found their groove and have won six of their last seven games, including four straight victories capped by an 87-78 triumph over the Mapua Cardinals last August 11.
They entered the second round with a 6-3 win-loss record, good for third in the league behind four-time defending champion San Beda College and Arellano University, who are currently tied for first with identical 8-2 slates.
The Bombers will be shooting for a repeat of their 69-60 triumph over the Knights when they collide at 2 p.m.
JRU coach Vergel Meneses said the battle is just starting for the Heavy Bombers despite their recent winning streak.
"We have nothing to celebrate about just yet, because it's just the first round and we're only halfway through the season," he said.
JRU will be battling a Letran team that is still savoring a 64-53 triumph over bitter rival San Beda last August 13. That win kept the Knights in the title hunt even although they have languished in the bottom half of the standings with a 3-6 mark.
Benilde, which is currently tied with idle Perpetual Help at No. 4 on identical 5-4 records, will be pinning its hopes on the trio of Mark Romero, Juan Paolo Taha, and Jonatahn Grey when it tangles with EAC (3-6) at 4:00 p.m.
Romero, Taha and Grey have carried the Blazers this season, as the three combine to score 42 points per game – or two-thirds of Benilde's average per game production.
"They're the leaders of this team. We will not be where we are right now if not for them," Benilde coach Gabby Velasco said of the three players.