San Beda, San Sebastian in do-or-die for last NCAA finals spot

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 07 2017 07:49 AM | Updated as of Nov 07 2017 09:09 AM

Rivals San Beda and San Sebastian face off for the last finals spot. Josh Albelda, ABS-CBN Sports
MANILA, Philippines – Defending champion San Beda College will face off with rival San Sebastian College for the last spot in the NCAA Season 93 finals on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The winner of the do-or-die battle will advance to a best-of-three finals series against Lyceum of the Philippines University, which advanced to the championship phase outright after winning all 18 of its elimination round games.

The Red Lions will be fighting off rust, as they last played on October 19 when they bowed to the Pirates in their final elimination round game.

In contrast, the Golden Stags have momentum on their side, thanks to a pair of remarkable playoff wins against Colegio de San Juan de Letran last October 20; and Jose Rizal University last October 24.

A low-scoring, physical game is expected as San Sebastian and San Beda are two of the best defensive teams in Season 93.

The Red Lions limited opponents to only 65.8 points per game -- the lowest mark in the league -- while the Golden Stags are not far behind as they only allowed 70.2 points per game.

"We all know that San Beda plays really hard defense, same with us," said San Sebastian coach Egay Macaraya.

Emotions are expected to run high as well. Earlier in the season, San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez called out San Sebastian star Michael Calisaan for his "dirty plays," which did not sit well with Macaraya.

Both coaches, however, said they want to focus on the present.

"I have no problems with him (Fernandez)," said Macaraya, who has his alma mater back to the Final Four in his second season in charge. "I'm just defending my player."

Fernandez, for his part, said he simply wants to focus on the game. "We would like… to give more concern on how we could preserve our tradition at San Beda," he said, referring to the Red Lions' amazing streak of 11 consecutive finals appearances, including nine championships.

The only years that the Red Lions failed to bring home the crown were in 2009, when they lost to the famed "Pinatubo Trio" of San Sebastian - Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang, and Ronald Pascual – and in 2015, when Aldin Ayo's Knights stunned the favored Lions.

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