SAN Sebastian and Jose Rizal University try to keep a firm hold of the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament lead when they take on separate rivals on Monday at The Arena in San Juan.
Knotted at the top with similar 5-1 slates, the Stags and Bombers collide with the Emilio Aguinaldo Generals and College of St. Benilde Blazers, respectively.
The Stags-Generals match is set at 4 p.m., with San Sebastian hoping to keep its searing five-game winning streak alive, even as EAC hopes to recover from a heartbreaking defeat the last time.
As usual, the Stags will be bannered by a three-headed offensive monster of Calvin Abueva, Ronald Pascual and Ian Sangalang, making them highly favored against the lowly Generals, who are at the bottom of the standings with a 1-6 record.
Stags coach Topex Robinson, however, anticipates a more determined Generals squad, which lost to the resurgent University of Perpetual Help Altas, 71-72, last Saturday after wasting a late 14-point cushion.
“EAC came from a sorry loss. We expect them to bounce back,” Robinson said after his wards crushed Arellano University, 91-70, also last Saturday.
The Bombers, likewise, have the slight edge over the Blazers when they meet in the second seniors’ game at 6 o’clock.
The Bombers were unfancied entering the season for their lack of a bona-fide star. But with Nate Matute shooting the lights out and the Bombers’ defense working to perfection, the Mandaluyong-based squad has surprised everyone and is now comfortably perched atop the heap.
Coach Vergel Meneses, while satisfied with his team’s great start, expect the Bombers to keep improving.
“Every game should be an improvement,” said Meneses, whose team is coming off an 85-71 victory over Lyceum last Thursday.
The Bombers will again be tested against the Carlo Lastimosa-led Blazers, who defeated the Chiefs, 80-73, in Laguna last Wednesday.
The four squads’ juniors’ counteparts will take the court earlier at 12 and 2 p.m. respectively.