Lions try to formalize semis entry
Dave Moralde and the Red Lions are favored but cannot take the Chiefs lightly. Jerome Ascano

SAN Beda seeks to formalize its seventh straight Final Four appearance as it takes on Arellano on Thursday in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball competition at The Arena in San Juan.

Game time is at 4 p.m. with the two-time defending champions trying to strengthen their hold of the top spot with a 13th win in 15 games and the 5-9 Chiefs just hoping to keep their slim semifinal chances alive.

The Chiefs are also out to make amends for their embarrassing 71-81 loss to a badly depleted Lions squad on June 24.

Despite outclassing the Chiefs with just six men in their first game of the season, Lions coach Ronnie Magsanoc is still bracing for a tough second-round battle.

“We always expect a difficult challenge every game,” the rookie mentor said on Wednesday. “We just have to be ready and prepared for the game plan of our opponents.”

The Lions are coming off a 92-69 rout of Emilio Aguinaldo College last Saturday in a game where veterans Jake Pascual and Rome dela Rosa delivered the goods.

Pascual, the Lions’ skipper, registered a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds on top of two rejections, while Dela Rosa showed he has recovered from a fractured nose bridge as he pumped in 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

On the other hand, the Chiefs were at the wrong side of a blowout last Thursday, suffering a 58-89 beating at the hands of Perpetual Help.

The Chiefs, who will be bannered by rookies John Pinto and James Forrester, cannot afford a loss against the Lions as it would dash their Final Four bid.

Emilio Aguinaldo College also tries to stay in the running for a semifinal spot as it takes on also-ran Lyceum in the second game at 6 o’clock.

The Generals tote a 5-9 win-loss card and still have a chance but may face a tough match against the eliminated Pirates scored a huge 69-62 upset victory in overtime against Final Four contender Jose Rizal University last week to improve their record to 3-11.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos