NATIONAL University eyes a return trip to the finals but a vengeful San Beda squad stands in the way as the Bulldogs and Red Lions collide on Friday in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup at The Arena in San Juan.
NU won over San Beda in the eliminations, 73-71, in overtime on April 13, but this time much more is at stake as they battle for a place in the title match against either University of the East or University of Santo Tomas.
The Warriors and Tigers tangle at 2 p.m., before the Bulldogs and Lions clash at 4 o’clock.
NU coach Eric Altamirano is eyeing back-to-back preseason titles, but noted that the main focus is to improve on their game before the UAAP season.
“It’s going to be a tough game for us,” Altamirano said. “We just want to make sure that we stay sharp and stay focused on our game. Magandang gauge yan before we go to the UAAP.”
NU, the top seed in Group A, made it to the semifinals when it edged Group B fourth-ranked Letran, 69-67, on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez hopes to avenge that elimination round loss to clinch a finals berth.
The Group A third-seed Red Lions overcame a 10-point deficit in their quarterfinal match against Group B second-ranked De La Salle to win, 66-63.
“We will be ready. They are playing well right now. It will be a different NU team come the semifinals,” said Fernandez.
Meanwhile, UE will look to repeat over UST after the Red Warriors beat the Tigers, 85-68, last May 18.
The Red Warriors, No. 1 in Group B, beat Group A No. 4 Adamson, 66-58, in the quarterfinals on Monday.
Santo Tomas, the No. 3 seed in Group B, reached the semifinals for the first time in the league when it defeated second-ranked Group A team Arellano, 66-58.