WHO is the best defensive team in the ongoing NCAA men’s basketball tournament?
San Beda and Jose Rizal University dispute the right to such claim on Monday when they tangle in the first game of a featured doubleheader at The Arena in San Juan.
Tipoff is set at 4 p.m. with the three-time defending champion Red Lions vying for a ninth victory in 11 games and a share of the lead with Letran.
The Heavy Bombers, on the other hand, will try to gain solo fourth place with a sixth victory in 11 games.
The Lions, who lead the league in least points allowed with 61.9 points per game, face a Bombers side that relies on a suffocating pressure defense that forces rivals to commit 21.5 turnovers per contest.
The Lions defused the Bombers, 65-41, in the first round, but San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez insists their second meeting won’t be as easy.
“This is the second round. This is a different situation,” he said.
Nigerian slotman Ola Adeogun, who registered 23 points, 16 boards, and two blocks in their first meeting, is again expected to carry the load for the Lions and gain ample contribution from Davao-born playmaker Baser Amer and versatile forward Art dela Cruz.
Adeogun, Amer, and Dela Cruz, who are all in the Top 10 of the league’s statistical points leaders at the end of the first round, delivered in the Lions’ 81-63 victory over Lyceum two Saturdays ago.
On the other hand, the Bombers, coming off a 50-57 loss to College of St. Benilde, will continue to rely offensively on skipper Michael Mabulac, forward Jordan dela Paz, and guards Philip Paniamogan and Paolo Pontejos.
Pontejos, the former Lion who had a team-high 13 points in the first round against his former team, is expected to bounce back from a scoreless outing against the Blazers last Monday.
Meanwhile, San Sebastian, tied with JRU with an even 5-5 win-loss card, also tries to keep its hold of fourth spot when it takes on Arellano in the second game at 6 p.m.
The Stags hope to build on the momentum of a 90-69 win over Emilio Aguinaldo as they face the ninth-running Chiefs who are seeking to move up the ranks with a fourth win in 11 games.