SAN Sebastian seeks to finally break a surprising skid in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament as it squares off against Mapua on Friday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Golden Stags were on track of living up to their stature as a perennial Final Four contender after started the season by winning three of their first four games.
But that has appeared to be a forgotten memory as they have fallen on a seven-game tailspin since late July.
Stuck in second to last spot in the 10-team standings, the Stags have been aching to get back on the winning track, showing flashes of desire in their last two games against heavyweights, before surrendering a 98-101 decision to Arellano, then 79-86 to San Beda last Monday.
The 4 p.m. encounter seems to represent the Stags’ best chance at snapping the losing spell as they face a Cardinals side that has won only once in 11 outings.
But that lone Mapua victory was at the expense of the Stags, an 89-81 decision in the first round.
Atoy Co and the rest of the Cardinals are definitely looking for an encore.
Mapua also nearly toppled a contender in the Chiefs before folding, 79-82, also last Monday.
Still, Stags coach Topex Robinson expressed confidence of registering in the win column once again.
“We just want to get back into our winning ways,” he said on the eve of the match. “I know it’s going to be hard, but we are up to the challenge.”
Bradwyn Guinto and CJ Perez who spearheaded the Stags’ late fightback that fell short against the defending champion Red Lions, face off against the Cardinals’ Joseph Eriobu, CJ Isit, and Andoy Estrella.
Jose Rizal University tries to keep in step with fellow Final Four contenders as it takes on Emilio Aguinaldo College earlier at 2 p.m.
The Heavy Bombers are in fifth spot with a 6-4 win-loss card and a victory against the Generals (3-7) would gain them a share of third with idles Perpetual Help and College of St. Benilde.