SAN Beda seeks to put the brakes on a surprising late-season slide as it squares off with Arellano in a pivotal NCAA men’s basketball match on Saturday at The Arena in San Juan.
The league-leading Red Lions have already secured a Final Four berth and a twice-to-beat advantage, but they are on a rare two-game losing streak in a crucial stretch of their drive for a fifth straight championship and ninth in the last decade.
“It’s painful,” Lions coach Boyet Fernandez said. “But we have to face the reality that sometimes we have to lose so that we can learn.”
Dealt a heartbreaking 75-76 defeat by Perpetual Help, the defending champions lost anew last Saturday, a 64-75 decision at the hands of Jose Rizal University that marked their first losing streak since 2009.
Now, the Lions simply hope to get back on the winning track to enter the semifinals on a positive note.
“We have to win,” Fernandez put it bluntly. “Buenas lang namin is we had a week to prepare.”
Gametime is at 2:30 p.m.
The stakes are greater for the second-running Chiefs, who are looking to formalize their maiden entry to the semifinals.
A win by the Legarda-based dribblers, sporting a 12-4 win-loss card, will also dislodge the Lions from the top spot for the first time in a while.
“It’s going to be a dream come true if we beat them,” Chiefs coach Jerry Codiñera said. “They’re a very disciplined team, San Beda. Yun ang pinaka-model namin.”
The Chiefs haven’t beaten the Lions since joining the country’s oldest collegiate league in 2009, a span of 10 games.
“Pero kailangan talaga walang lapses against San Beda,” Codiñera said.
Perpetual Help, tied with JRU in third place with an 11-6 record, aims to move closer to a third straight postseason appearance as it takes on already eliminated San Sebastian (5-11) at 12:30 p.m.