LAST summer, Mark Tallo left De La Salle to join Southwestern University in Cebu. And as fate would have it, the Cebuano guard plays against the Green Archers in his first game back in Manila when the Philippine Collegiate Champions League Final Four opens on Monday at the Blue Eagle Gym.
The Green Archers go up against the Cobras at 2 p.m. in the round robin format tournament where the top two teams figure in the best-of-three championship series.
La Salle claimed an outright berth in the PCCL Final Four after winning the UAAP Season 76 crown against University of Santo Tomas in three games.
The Cobras, meanwhile, earned the right to play in the Final Four after coming out as champions against teams from Visayas and Mindanao, which means Tallo gets to battle the Green Archers team that he played for in 2012.
“It’s going to be an exciting game,” said La Salle star Jeron Teng. “I know he is a talented player. He has the potential even in La Salle and ngayon naging MVP siya so magandang game.”
La Salle was coming off a 74-74 draw against San Beda on Saturday in a benefit game that doubled as a tuneup for the two teams.
“By playing in the benefit game, we hope to get our timing back and get back into shape. Three games in four days tournament, it’s going to be tough. We have to prepare the best way we can,” said La Salle coach Juno Sauler.
In the second game, NCAA titlist San Beda takes on a depleted Far Eastern University side at 4 p.m.
The Red Lions also clinched an automatic slot in the PCCL after beating Letran in the NCAA 89 finals.
While some of his players are suiting up for NLEX in the PBA D-League, San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez remained cautious about the condition of his players.
“We are facing tough opponents so we are really pressed to prepare ourselves because we have a longer NCAA season and we just rested for a week for the benefit game. We are hoping that the benefit game helped us in our preparation,” said Fernandez.
The Tamaraws, already playing without Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia after joining the PBA, will now be without head coach Nash Racela and Mark Belo against the Red Lions due to their commitments with the national team in the Southeast Asian Games.