A TANTALIZING players’ showdown is set in the San Beda-Perpetual game, but equally interesting is the coaching matchup between Ronnie Magsanoc and Aric del Rosario on Thursday in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The Red Lions gun for a share of the lead when it takes on the Altas at 6 p.m.
The Lions, who have been flawless in their first two games, are still missing suspended Nigerian import Ola Adeogun but still boast a stellar local cast led by Baser Amer, Jake Pascual, Art dela Cruz, and Rome dela Rosa.
They face a tough task against the Perpetual squad featuring Nigerian reinforcements Nicholas Omorogbe and Femi Babayemi and top locals Jet Vidal and Earl Thompson.
Magsanoc, the rookie mentor who is off to a fine start in his first try at the helm, will face a tested tactician in Del Rosario, the comebacking coach who once led University of Santo Tomas to four straight UAAP titles from 1993.
“It’s tough against a proven champion coach,” the 46-year-old Magsanoc said of Del Rosario. “He still has a lot of passion and pride that will continue to motivate his players.
“Makikita mo naman, iba na ang takbo ng Perpetual ngayon.”
Del Rosario has infused his winning ways into the Altas, who have won their first two games before losing to powerhouse San Sebastian College in their last outing.
The Altas will try to recover from that loss with leadership from Omorogbe, who had 18 points and nine rebounds against the Stags.
Amer, the Davao City native who topscored for the Lions with 17 points in 15 minutes against Lyceum, is again expected to provide the spark off the bench for the Lions.
Mapua also vies for its third straight victory when it battles Lyceum in the first seniors’ game at 4 p.m.
The Cardinals beat Emilio Aguinaldo College last time, with Kenneth Ighalo recording a double-double of 13 points and 23 rebounds.
The Pirates, on the other hand, finally made it to the win column after four games as they eked out an 83-81 win also against the Generals last Saturday.
In the juniors’ division, Mapua takes on Lyceum at 12 p.m., while San Beda collides with Perpetual at 2 o’clock.