Red Lions, Knights tackle separate foes as they try to keep share of lead in NCAA
Perpetual Help expects Nigerian scoring machine Bright Akhuetie to be back from injury as the Altas battle reigning five-time champion San Beda Red Lions in the NCAA on Thursday. Jerome Ascano

SAN Beda and Letran seek to keep their share of the lead as the two clash with Perpetual Help and College of St. Benilde, respectively, in the 91st NCAA basketball tournament on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan City.

Arthur dela Cruz is again expected to lead the Red Lions’ charge after coming fresh from a triple-double performance in the team’s 83-75  win over Jose Rizal with 26 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists.

The San Beda-Perpetual duel is set at 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Knights likewise shoot for a win against the Blazers in a bid to keep in step with the reigning five-time champions with whom they are tied on top with similar 10-2 (win-loss) slates.

Letran enters the 2 p.m. game against St. Benilde still on a high following its 74-57 rout of Lyceum behind the 26-point output of Mark Cruz.

San Beda will play a Perpetual Help side that will have Nigerian scoring machine Bright Akhuetie back in action after suffering a minor shoulder injury he sustained in a 70-42 bashing of Lyceum last Sept. 1.

“He'll play,” said a team insider.

In the absence of Akhuetie, Perpetual Help struggled and fell to Arellano, 77-84, in overtime last week.

Akhuetie averages a league-best 21 points, 12.10 rebounds (third in the league) and 2.20 steals (fourth) a game.

But the Lions also got a big boost recently with the return of starting point guard Baser Amer from a dislocated shoulder 

Amer, the San Beda skipper, was scoreless in his first game back since missing eight games for the Lions, but had five assists and four rebounds and provided the inside leadership for the team.

“He has demeanor, leadership, and winning attitude, you can't coach that,” said San Beda coach Jamike Jarin of Amer.

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