TWO of the league’s heavyweights test each other’s mettle when the NCAA men’s basketball competition resumes on Saturday at The Arena in San Juan.
San Beda and University of Perpetual Help dispute solo second place when they collide at 4 p.m., marking the first meeting between the two teams since last year’s Final Four won by eventual champion Red Lions.
The Lions are currently on a four-game winning streak, with their victories all coming in convincing fashion. Their average margin of 19.3 points show the three-time defending titlists have regained their bearings after a stunning 70-66 loss to Lyceum last month.
The Altas, on the other hand, had to go through the wringer in pulling off their last three victories, bolstering their growing reputation as a legitimate contender this season.
Both teams tote similar 5-1 (win-loss cards), and are looking to keep in step with front-running Letran, which remains undefeated in six games.
“Dun makikita kung paano kami maghihiwalay,” Altas coach Aric del Rosario said. “Kumpiyansa pa rin ako sa team ko. As long as ganito ang nilalaro ng team ko, may chance kami manalo.”
Last season’s first-round meeting between the two teams was best remembered for Baser Amer’s sensational buzzer-beating heave from the other side of the court that forced overtime. The Altas eventually won the match by the skin of their teeth, 88-87.
The crafty playmaker from Davao once again forms a deadly combination with Nigerian slotman Ola Adeogun, who starred for the Lions in their 65-41 victory over Jose Rizal University last week by scattering 23 points, 16 boards, and two blocks.
Meanwhile, two other squads in the upper-half of the 10-team standings meet in the second game of the double-header.
Fourth-running San Sebastian takes on fifth-ranked JRU in head coach Topex Robinson’s first game back after joining the Alaska Aces in their bonus trip to the US. Robinson also serves as one of Alaska’s assistant coaches.