Skipper Dan Sara remains doubtful to suit up on Tuesday when host San Beda tries to extend its winning run to five against Perpetual Help in what promises to be an explosive showdown as the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney resumes at The Arena in San Juan City.
The 5-foot-8 Sara, out with a fractured finger, sat out the Red Lions’ last two matches which they won in convincing fashion and coach Jamike Jarin admitted he could give their starting playmaker additional time to rest and recover even if they intend to extend their win-run and claim the solo lead against the dangerous Altas.
“Probably not yet,” said Jarin in an SMS message when reached by FOX Sports on the eve of their match. “He is cleared to play but we want him to rest pa kasi may pain pa siya.”
Even without Sara, good for 14.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, the Red Lions have risen to the occasion, notably their backcourt unit, led by co-skipper Radge Tongco, AC Soberano and Robert Bolick, who have all been combining for almost 26 markers per outing.
Also expected to deliver for San Beda is touted Fil-Am rookie Davon Potts, who’s been the leading their attack with 16 points per outing.
Even the Red Lions’ prized frontcourt duo of Javee Mocon (12.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists) and Cameroon import Donald Tankoua (9.0 markers and 12.3 boards) has been playing solid, giving Jarin ample reason to be satisfied with their strong start.
Out to foil the Red Lions’ early rampage are the Altas, who are eager to sustain their sharp form that saw them whipped the San Sebastian Golden Stags 76-61 last week.
“It’s going to be a great match for sure,” said Jarin.
Even Jarin’s Perpetual Help counterpart, Jimwell Gican, knows there’s a lot at stake aside from the Altas’ bid of improving their 2-1 mark. “We’re looking forward to that match because it will be a test of the team’s character,” he said.
Tipped to do most of the heavy lifting for Perpetual Help is its prized Nigerian reinforcement Bright Akhuetie, who appeared to have gained his usual strength underscored by his dominant ’20-20’ showing against San Sebastian.
Although he will no longer have to deal with San Beda’s former import Ola Adeogun, who has already graduated, Akhuetie believes he and the Altas will still have their hands full against the Red Lions.
“They are a very good team,” he said. “We cannot feel San Beda don’t have Ola anymore. They still have the likes of Donald (Tankoua), (Arnaud) Noah and Potts. We should go back quick and play defense against them.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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