MANILA, Philippines - Jose Rizal U tries to keep its hold of the third spot while Perpetual Help seeks to gain a share of it as they clash today in the 88th NCAA men's basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The Bombers, just behind frontrunning San Beda (10-2) and No. 2 San Sebastian (9-3) with an 8-3 card, go all out against the Altas to stay in the hunt for the twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four.
But at 7-4, the Altas are also expected to shoot for no less than a victory to bolster their own bid, guaranteeing a slambang encounter in the 6 p.m. main dish.
Focus will also be on Calvin Abueva, who makes his return from a one-game suspension as he hopes to lead the San Sebastian Stags against a struggling St. Benilde side in the other seniors match at 4 p.m.
Abueva, last year's MVP and the Alaska's No. 2 overall pick in the recent PBA rookie draft, was sacked due to a disqualification foul against Lyceum's Vence Laude last Aug. 23. The Stags bucked his loss and hacked out an 83-75 decision then held off the Arellano Chiefs, 79-71, last week to stay within striking distance of the Lions.
"He can now play," said Frank Gusi, San Sebastian's board representative.
His ejection, however, disqualified Abueva, the reigning MVP and the current leader in the statistical race this year, for any awards in his final season in the league.
The Blazers, on the other, hope to come up with a follow-up to their 87-73 win over the Lyceum Pirates last Thursday.
With a 4-8 slate, however, St. Benilde coach Richard del Rosario said they're not think of the semis anymore but to improve in their last remaining games.
"To tell you all honestly, we're not thinking or even speaking of the Final Four anymore, we just want to improve every game," said Del Rosario.