LETRAN considers itself the underdog in its marquee match-up against University of Perpetual Help System Dalta in the battle between unbeaten teams of the NCAA Season 91 seniors basketball tournament on Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Despite going into the 4 p.m. match fresh from a morale-boosting win over San Sebastian, Knights coach Aldin Ayo still believes his small team will find it difficult matching up against the formidable Altas.
Both teams unbeaten in four starts, the winner of the game will assume solo top spot.
Ayo however, is aware the Knights are going to have their hands full trying to contain reigning Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson and Bright Akhuetie, who had 44 points and 23 rebounds in two separate games this season.
The young coach likewise finds himself pitted against veteran Aric Del Rosario, one of the finest mentors in the game who’s old enough to be Ayo’s father.
“Mas malalaki sila sa amin. Mas athletic sila sa amin,” said Ayo. “They have the Most Valuable Player and they have a seasoned coach. Ako rookie lang ako.”
“’Yung mga players ko, maliliit. We don’t have a dominant big man. We are the underdogs. Let’s see kung ano mangyayari sa Thursday,” he added.
The Knights are fresh from a come-from-behind 82-76 win over the Stags last Tuesday in a game that saw them fight back from 13 points down in the fourth period.
Ayo however is concerned about fatigue factor creeping up on his players considering the short window of time the Knights rested going to their game against the Altas.
“Hindi natin masabi. Puwedeng okay. Puwedeng walang rust factor, puwedeng may factor physically. But we’ve prepared them sa conditioning. Nakaka-recover naman sila,” said Ayo.
In the first game, San Beda goes up for back-to-back victories against College of St. Benilde at 2p.m.
The Red Lions carry a 3-1 win-loss record for second spot, while the Blazers have a 1-3 slate for a tie with Mapua, San Sebastian, and Lyceum for fourth to sixth place.