Two bottom-half teams with currently contrasting streaks collide at the end the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.
A surging Emilio Aguinaldo College takes on a struggling Mapua side with both squads trying not only to enter the second round of competition on a winning note, but also provide excitement for fans in the lone seniors’ game at 6 p.m.
The game was originally slated last Thursday, but was postponed due to the heavy downpour and flooding brought about by tropical storm “Maring”.
The Generals have won their last two games and hope to make it three in a row that would enable them to gain a share of fifth place with San Sebastian, which sports a 4-5 win-loss card.
Generals coach Gerry Esplana, however, remains wary of the Cardinals, who are aching to finally end a season-worst six-game losing streak.
“Nakakatakot ang (team na may) losing streak kasi babawi at babawi yan,” the former PBA star said. “May mga pride yan sila.”
“We’ll just be there, play aggressive, and hopefully they lose steam,” added Esplana, who will be missing the services of rookie forward Sidney Onwubere, who is suspended for a game for trying to provoke Arellano’s James Forrester in the Generals’ 79-63 win last time out.
Forrester, for his part, was suspended for two games for attempting to charge at Onwubere.
Reeling from a 64-84 loss to College of St. Benilde two Saturdays ago, the cellar-dwelling Cardinals hope to improve on a league-worst defense that allows an unacceptable 80.4 points per game.
A victory for the Cardinals will only be their second time in nine games.