TWO unbeaten teams regarded as top threats to San Beda’s stranglehold collide on Saturday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
San Sebastian and University of Perpetual Help face off in the lone seniors’ game at 2 p.m. trying to solidify their status as title contenders in Season 90 of the country’s oldest collegiate league.
A victory the Golden Stags, who have won their first two games, will earn them the solo leadership, while the Altas, who emerged winners in their opening game, will gain a share of the lead with the Red Lions (2-0).
Only one thing’s for sure: one team will absorb its first defeat.
The Stags swept their three meetings — two in the eliminations and one in the playoff for Final Four seeding — with the Altas last season.
San Sebastian faces basically the same Perpetual squad, which, however, has appeared to become more cohesive with the departure of Nigerian forward Nic Omorogbe.
Behind the prolific duo of Earl Thompson and Juneric Baloria, the Altas overwhelmed the Mapua Cardinals, 91-57, last Monday to jumpstart their campaign.
“They really came in with a bang,” Stags coach Topex Robinson said. “We just have to contain their veterans.”
“But we don’t worry much about other teams,” he was quick to add. “We worry more about things we have control of and that are our guys here.”
Robinson is referring to standout guards CJ Perez, Jamil Ortuoste, and Jovit dela Cruz, and big man Bradwyn Guinto.
Altas coach Aric del Rosario is especially wary of the Stags’ guards.
“Kailangan labanan naming yung speed nila,” the respected mentor said. “Halos pareho lang ang mga big man naming. Magkakatalo sa wings. Kailangan ma-stop namin yung atake nila.”