Final Four protagonists take center stage on Tuesday when the race for the coveted playoff incentives heats up in the NCAA Season 92 men’s basketball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
Pacesetting Arellano (13-3) guns for the first outright twice-to-beat advantage against fourth-running Mapua (11-5) at 2 pm before host San Beda (12-4) aims to achieve the same feat against dangerous Perpetual Help (11-5) at 4pm.
Serving as an appetizer for the pair of blockbuster matches is the 12pm encounter between Emilio Aguinaldo College (5-11) and winless St. Benilde (0-16).
The main focus, however, will fall on the Chiefs, who are eager to make the most of their return to the Final Four stage after missing the trip last year.
Arellano coach Jerry Codiñera couldn’t stress hard enough how crucial the task at hand is, saying: “It will help us a lot if we have the twice-to-beat advantage.”
The Chiefs, winners of their last 3 matches, are eager to repeat over the Cardinals whom they handily beaten 96-75 in their first-round meeting last July 19.
A fair share of the limelight should be given to the main match, with the Red Lions raring to fortify their hold of the No. 2 spot and claim a familiar bonus in the playoffs.
The Red Lions, however, are expected to have a tough time duplicating a dominant 88-70 win over the Altas in their initial encounter last July 19.
Without injured Cameroonian center Donald Tankoua who’s recovering from an ACL injury, the Red Lions appear inferior in the lane going up against the Altas’ import duo of Bright Akhuetie and Prince Eze.
Perpetual Help coach Jimwell Gican knows that glaring mismatch and he intends to pounce on it.
“It will not be easy but we will try to take advantage of it,” said Gican, knowing his wards still has a golden chance to secure a playoff bonus. — By Jerome Lagunzad