San Beda vs Mapua Final Four preview
The Red Lions, coming off a huge 73-67 overtime win last Sunday, are looking to go back to the championship series against a motivated Cardinals squad dreaming of greater things.
The win-or-go home affair in the Final Four is set at 3 p.m. at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan for the right to face Letran for the crown.
Here's what you should know ahead of this must-win battle.
GOLD STANDARD: San Beda may have slipped to the three-seed, but its championship pedigree remains reaching the Finals in the last 14 seasons and winning 11 crowns. The young Red Lions want just that as the boys of coach Boyet Fernandez gun for a 15th straight finals appearance as they throw everything including the kitchen sink in this duel.
THREE DECADES IN THE MAKING: On the flipside, Mapua has never made it this far since 1991 when the Cardinals were still bannered by Benny Cheng and coached by Joel Banal. Coach Randy Alcantara is hopeful that the drought finally comes to an end as the two-seed maximizes its twice-to-beat advantage.
WOUNDED LION: There's nothing more dangerous than a wounded lion, so they say, and James Kwekuteye showed that in Game One, bucking his sprained ankle to still deliver 17 points to lead San Beda despite just logging limited minutes. The question, though, is can he keep that pace up and bring the Red Lions back to the pinnacle?
LONG DISTANCE CONNECTION: Uncharacteristically, Mapua fired blanks from deep with the team shooting only 3-of-25 from beyond the arc and Paolo Hernandez going 1-of-9. That's way below the team's 30.8-percent average from rainbow country, a league-best and a potent weapon for the Cardinals all season long. But if Mapua somehow finds its range anew, that may just spell trouble for San Beda in this clincher.
PLAYER TO WATCH: No San Beda big can match the brute of one Warren Bonifacio and Mapua must capitalize on that much like how it did in Game One. The hardworking forward churned out 18 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks including key buckets down the stretch for the Cardinals in that first matchup and surely, his performance will be the difference on whether Mapua can get back to the finals or face an early exit.
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