FOR a perennial cellar-dweller, hearing that it has a good chance to finally return to the Final Four is certainly music to the ears.
But semifinal talk is forbidden, for now, as Perpetual Help coach Aric del Rosario guards against complacency ahead of the Altas' match against Arellano University on Thursday in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
“Mahirap na 'pag narinig ng mga players ang Final Four, baka tamarin sila,” said the multi-titled Del Rosario, who has infused his winning ways into the Altas.
The Altas are running third with an 8-5 win-loss card and a win against the Chiefs in their 4 p.m. tussle would solidify their bid to make it to the semifinal round for the first time in eight years.
The Las Piñas-based dribblers are coming off a 71-73 loss to Emilio Aguinaldo College last Saturday in another down-the-wire encounter that saw marksman Jet Vidal miss a potential game-winning triple from 30 feet.
Hoping to bounce back, the Altas should remain wary of the Chiefs, Final Four aspirants who beat them, 63-54, in the first round.
Rookie Nard Pinto starred for the Chiefs in their first meeting, scoring seven of his 15 points in the final frame to help his team secure the victory.
Thanks again to the 21-year-old Davao-born playmaker's clutch performance, the Chiefs edged Mapua, 59-57, last Thursday and hiked their record to 5-8 to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
Jose Rizal University, which shares third place with Perpetual, sees action two hours later as it faces also-ran Lyceum.
The Bombers lost to top-ranked San Beda, 45-67, last Saturday in an outing that saw main offensive threat Nate Matute contributing a measly point in 27 minutes on the court.
The Pirates, on the other hand, have suffered a worse fate. They are currently last in the league with a 2-11 mark and have not won in eight games, with their last win coming as far back as July 12 against Mapua.