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    Blazers, Knights seek finals spots; Lions, Pirates try to steal show

    Nov 29, 2022
    Brent Paraiso Letran vs St. Benilde
    PHOTO: NCAA Philippines on Facebook

    THE NCAA Season 98 seniors basketball tournament Final Four begins on Tuesday at Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan with top seed College of St. Benilde and No. 2 Letran holding twice-to-beat advantages.

    The Blazers and the San Beda Red Lions face off at 12 p.m., while the Knights and the Lyceum Pirates collide at 3 p.m.

    Things to know:

    BLAZERS BACK

    The last time St. Benilde made the Final Four was in 2002, when it went on to reach the finals.

    Two decades later, Will Gozum and co. have a chance to replicate that feat as the Blazers look to continue their fine run this season after going 14-4 in the eliminations.

    the Blazers went 2-0 over the Red Lions this season, a 78-69 win on Oct. 9 and an 82-73 victory last week.

    ONE STEP CLOSER

    Forget about Letran's elimination run. Fran Yu and the rest of the Knights only have one goal in mind: defending the crown anew.

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    The defending champions split their season series against Lyceum, with the Pirates winning, 82-75, on Oct. 2, and Letran taking a 69-64 second round win back in Oct. 28.

    The biggest difference in those games? Louie Sangalang and Brent Paraiso were suspended in that first duel, one that Letran is happy to have for this semifinal clash.

    ASSERTING MIGHT

    Enoch Valdez will have his hands full in stopping the undersized yet hardworking duo of Sangalang and Pao Javillonar.

    It will be one of the keys for No. 3 Lyceum to force a decider.

    Valdez has shown flashes of his old form after injuries slowed him down early in the campaign, and what better way to do it when the lights are at their brightest.

    UNDERDOGS THIS TIME

    San Beda is in an unfamiliar spot, needing to win twice to advance.

    But that puts more pressure on James Kwekuteye and JB Bahio to lead the Red Lions back to the top.

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    BREAKOUTS LOOMING

    As much as all eyes are on the leaders, expect others to seize their moments and help their teams get the victory.

    Migs Oczon has been solid all season long for St. Benilde with outside shooting, while Jimboy Pasturan and JC Cullar have also done well pn the backcourt.

    Tony Ynot, meanwhile, has been a reliable player for San Beda as Jacob Cortez has shown what he's made of late in the second round.

    King Caralipio has also been an underrated contributor for Letran, on pace for a Mythical Team nod, while Kurt Reyson has seemingly broke out of his shell this season.

    And JM Bravo has been an exceptional producer for Lyceum, linking well with fellow sophomores Mac Guadana and Ato Barba.

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    PHOTO: NCAA Philippines on Facebook
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