JOSE Rizal University and College of St. Benilde shift their respective Final Four bids in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament into overdrive as they tackle separate eliminated opponents trying to play the spoilers’ role on Monday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Heavy Bombers take on San Sebastian at 4 p.m., while the Blazers face a depleted Mapua side two hours earlier, with both games having huge repercussions.
The Bombers are running fourth with an 11-6 win-loss card, half-game ahead of the Blazers (10-6) and half-game below idle University of Perpetual Help (12-6), which is already secured of at least a playoff for a berth in the next round.
A victory for both semifinal aspirants on Monday would already secure JRU a spot in the next round, but would still keep the Blazers alive.
In one of the closest Final Four races in the league in recent memory, a three-way tie at 12-6 looms if the Blazers would also win their last game against Letran on Friday.
The scenario would benefit the Bombers, who will clinch a postseason berth outright owing to a superior quotient over the Altas and the Blazers.
But a loss for the Bombers and a win for the Blazers on Monday will suddenly endanger JRU’s chances, and would have to hope for CSB to also lose its last game against Letran for the Mandaluyong-based school to advance.
Benilde will make the Final Four if it wins its last two games and JRU loses against the Stags.
“Our fate is still in our hands,” Blazers coach Gabby Velasco said.
But a JRU win and a CSB loss on Monday will automatically eliminate the Blazers, thus avoiding complications and complete the Final Four cast right away.
A loss for both squads will enable the third-running Altas to clinch a Final Four spot.
The Bombers are facing a Stags side that is in eighth spot with a 5-12 slate but has won two of its last three games, while the Blazers take on the Cardinals, who are second to last in the 10-team standings and are expected to field just seven players due suspensions.