REIGNING NCAA champion San Beda and Hope Christian High School try to forge a title showdown when take on separate opponents on Friday in the Final Four of the 1st Philippine Secondary Schools Basketball Championship (PSSBC) at the Chiang Kai Shek College gym in Manila.
The Red Cubs collide with the San Sebastian-Recoletos Staglets in their one-game face-off at 3:30 p.m. in a repeat of their NCAA finals showdown last month which the Red Lions won via sweep.
The successful title stint gave San Beda its 20th title overall in the country’s oldest collegiate league, readily making them the overwhelming favorites over the Staglets.
The Hope Christians, on the other hand, collide with Letran Squires at 2 p.m., with Hope out to avert an all-NCAA showdown in the finals.
While Hope Christian enjoys the height and heft advantage over the Squires, team manager Bernard Yang is not taking the Intramuros-based squad lightly, wary of the presence of Letran’s two prolific scorers in Rey Nambatac and John Quinto.
“Letran is a tough team but the boys are ready,” said Yang, whose team is out to redeem itself after losing to rival Chiang Kai Shek College in the finals of the Metro Manila Tiong Lian Basketball Association (MMTLBA) finals early this year.
“That’s our extra motivation,” said Yang, who is expected to get another solid performance from Clint Doliquez, Arjan dela Cruz, John Apacible and Jollo Go.
Despite finishing with just a 1-3 record in their group elims, the Squires advanced to the Final Four of the tournament sponsored by Blackwater Sports, Ironcon Builders, MEC Networks, Jumbo Plastic Linoleum, Wrangler, Welcoat House Paints, Hapee Toothpaste, and Dickies Underwear, by upsetting Group A topnotcher Chiang Kai Shek College, 67-61.
Unlike the Staglets who romped off with an 82-61 win over University of Santo Tomas, the Red Cubs went through the wringer before outlasting UAAP titlist Far Eastern University, 80-79.
The San Beda Red Cubs hope their tough win over the Baby Tamaraws will serve them in good stead as they renew their rivalry with the Staglets.
Expected to lead the Red Cubs are Adven Diputado, Arvin Tolentino, Joshua Caracut and JV Mocon while the Staglets will draw firepower from Pocholo Loor, Jon Macasaet, Onyok Velasco, Jr., Alfren Gayosa, and Michael Calisaan.