JOSE Rizal University hopes to slay the ghost of past second-round disappointments as it starts its Season 90 second-round campaign against rejuvenated Letran on Friday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The Heavy Bombers are the league’s hottest team, having won their last four games to end the first round in a comfortable position in solo third spot with a 6-3 win-loss card behind co-leaders San Beda and Arellano.
But memories are starting to haunt the Bombers as they have also posted scintillating starts to be in the running for the Final Four in the last two seasons only to falter in the second round to miss the semifinals.
In 2012, the Bombers ranked second at the end of the first round before winding up fifth after the elimination round. The Shaw-based dribblers sported a record good enough to be in fourth spot at after nine games, before finishing eighth.
That the Bombers hope to avoid this time as they are eager to start the second round against the Knights at 2 p.m.
“Balikan natin what went wrong,” Bombers coach Vergel Meneses said. “At hindi na dapat mangyari ’yun.”
“Second round—ito na ang laban na sinasabi natin,” added the fiery mentor, who will draw strength from sharpshooter Philip Paniamogan and big men Michael Mabulac and Razak Abdul Wahab anew. “They’re after us because we’re winning, so we have to be ready for them.”
But the Bombers face a Knights side that’s entering the second half of eliminations oozing with confidence following a 64-53 victory over archrival San Beda.
It was the only the Knights’ third win in nine games as they still ended the first round in the bottom-half of the 10-team standings.
“But if we always play the way we played (against San Beda), good things are bound to happen,” said Knights coach Caloy Garcia, who has been on an undersized squad led by Kevin Racal and Mark Cruz.
College of St. Benilde and Emilio Aguinaldo College likewise try to kick off their respective second-round campaigns on a positive note as they face off at 4 o’clock.
The Blazers are in a three-way logjam in fourth spot with a 5-4 slate, while the Generals are tied with the Knights with identical 3-6 records.