A FULL-stretngth San Beda side seeks to start its second-round campaign on a bright note as it takes on Mapua on Wednesday when the NCAA men’s basketball tournament resumes at The Arena in San Juan.
With Ola Adeogun expected to be back in harness after ironing our differences with the squad and Baser Amer cleared by doctors to play, the Red Lions aim to recover from a 53-64 loss to archrival Letran last Wednesday and register their eighth win in 10 games.
“I’m really proud of Ola,” Lions coach Boyet Feranandez said of the star Nigerian slotman, who was benched in the game against the Knights for missing practice for three days. “He came out and talked to the whole team. He was man enough to know what is right and what is wrong.”
“Hopefully it’s a new start for San Beda,” he added.
Fernandez, though, still lists Amer, despite doctors’ clearance after recovering from a concussion in the Knights match, as day to day.
“For me, until he’s not really okay, we’re going to protect him as if it’s the head that was hit,” Fernandez said of the playmaking wizard from Davao.
The league-leading Lions should be able manage without Amer against Mapua, which is on the opposite end of the 10-team standings with a 1-8 win-loss card. The Lions also beat the Cardinals handily, 89-55, in the first round.
Still, Fernandez is not underestimating the Atoy Co-mentored Cardinals with three players making solid impressions in the All-Star game last Saturday.
“With the two big guys who have been shooting three-pointers, (Jeson) Cantos and (Jessie) Saitanan, it will be tough facing Mapua in our first game (in the second round),” the San Beda mentor said.
Cantos led the West team with a game-high 18 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting in 20 minutes, while Saitanan added eight points, built around two triples, on top of five boards in 12 minutes in a losing effort against the East.
Even Cardinals point guard Exeqiel Biteng shone in the three-point shootout, firing 19 points in eliminations, before losing to Philip Paniamogan in the playoff for the second finals spot.
Arellano, behind All-Star Game MVP Nard Pinto, tries to keep in step with the Lions as they face struggling San Sebastian in the second game at 4 o’clock.
The Chiefs, who share the top spot with the Lions, face a Golden Stags squad seeking to snap a five-game skid and improve their 3-6 slate.