LETRAN braces for the calm before the storm as it faces College of St. Benilde on Saturday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Before embarking on a killer schedule that will see them take on fellow leaders San Beda and University of Perpetual Help as well as fourth-running San Sebastian to end the elimination round, the Knights have to first go through the Blazers at 6 p.m.
A victory for the second-running Knights (11-3) will formalize their entry to the Final Four and move them a game behind archrival and defending champion San Beda.
“The next four games will be critical for us because if we’re going for the top two seeds, we must win against those teams,” Knights coach Caloy Garcia said.
“Pero ang sa akin lang naman kasi, I’m just trying to prepare my team for the Final Four. It’s not about us having the twice to beat,” Garcia was quick to add. “Feeling ko naman dito sa team namin, basta may kumpiyansa lahat, we have a chance (to beat anyone).”
The Knights are not looking past the Blazers, this season’s heartbreak kids who remain dangerous with the troika of Paolo Taha, Mark Romero, and Jonathan Grey in the fold.
The Blazers, tied in seventh place with a 5-9 win-loss record, are still mathematically alive in the playoff race, but would have to hope that middle-of-the-pack squads San Sebastian, Emilio Aguinaldo College, and Jose Rizal University lose their next assignments.
“Benilde, they have the talent, pero tingin ko naman pag dating sa hard work at puso, meron rin naman ang team namin. Dun namin kinukuha ang lakas namin,” said Garcia, who is again counting on Raymond Almazan, Mark Cruz, Kevin Racal, and Rey Nambatac.
Earlier, EAC tries to sustain its Final Four push as it collides with Arellano at 4 o’clock.
Firmly in the hunt for a semifinal slot with an 8-7 slate, the fifth-running Generals battle a Chiefs side on the brink of elimination with a 5-9 card.