SAN Beda, which has finished as the No. 1 team in the elimination round for the past seven years of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, isn't keen on changing tradition that has helped them win six championships over the same span.
The Red Lions try to lock up the top seeding at The Arena in San Juan when they square off against a rejuvenated Arellano squad on Saturday, the last day of the eliminations.
“It’s more of pride,” said Lions coach Boyet Fernandez. “It’s for the players. They worked hard the whole season and being number one (will add proof).”
A San Beda victory in the 6 p.m. affair will be its the 15th in 18 games, enough to clinch the No.1 seeding in the Final Four. A loss, however, will force a tie with archrival Letran (14-4) and forge a playoff to determine the top seed.
The Lions dispatched the Chiefs, 67-54, in the first round, but will be facing a different Arellano side that has belatedly lived up to its tag as a team to beat this season.
“If you look at Arellano right now, they’re playing the way they played in the preseason,” Fernandez said. “It will be a tough game for us, but we want to be number one.”
Riding the momentum of a four-game winning streak, the Chiefs try to provide a worthy challenge to the Lions as they aim to finish their season with an even 9-9 win-loss record that will surpass their best mark in the league, an 8-10 slate in 2009, their first season.
The Chiefs' 63-54 win last Thursday over Jose Rizal University gave Arellano coach Koy Banal his longest winning streak in a while.
“Hopefully we can follow it up in our last game and finish the season with a bang,” Banal said. “Medyo we’re shooting for the stars, pero bilog nga ang bola, sabi nila.”
Emilio Aguinaldo College and Mapua likewise hope to finish their respective seasons on a bright note as they face off at 4 p.m.
The fifth-running Generals (9-8) are poised for their first winning season in the league, while the Cardinals are aiming for their third win in 18 games.