Top seed San Beda expects nothing less than a grind-it-out battle with No. 4 Perpetual Help in their own Final Four showdown on Friday in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Red Lions, armed with a twice-to-beat advantage, are favored to re-assert their mastery over the Altas in their 2 p.m. showdown, hoping to make a quick passage to their 11th straight finals appearance and claim the throne which they lost to arch-rival Letran Knights last year.
While skipper Dan Sara, versatile Javee Mocon, prized Fil-Am rookie Davon Potts and gunner AC Soberano are expected to lead the way for the Red Lions, nobody among them is more eager to shine on the bigger stage than solid recruit Ben Adamos.
A transferee from the Technological Institute of the Philippines, the 6-foot-7 Adamos has ably filled up the void left by Cameroonian center Donald Tankoua, who suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury in San Beda’s eight-point victory over Emilio Aguinaldo College last month.
Adamos is aware of how daunting the latest task at hand is as he’s expected to have his hands full in trying to contain the Altas’ pair of Nigerian imports in Bright Akhuetie and Prince Eze.
“Tsina-challenge ko ang kay Bright,” he said. “Halos lahat ng nakakatapat ko, imports. As a Pinoy, nararamdaman kong mas lalo akong lumalaban kasi imports nga ang kalaban ko.”
While the Red Lions have defeated the Altas in all but one of their previous five meetings in the semifinals, Adamos remains wary.
“Lahat naman tayo nakikita natin na magaling ang Perpetual (Help). Nakakatulong din sa kanila ‘yung crowd. Itong Final Four magiging madugo ang labanan,” he stressed.
Even Red Lions’ second-year coach Jamike Jarin is pleased to see Adamos rise up to the challenge in the absence of Tankoua.
“Ben is coming into age. So long as he keeps his feet grounded, sky is the limit for this young man,” he said. – By Jerome Lagunzad