UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help System Dalta and Mapua eye a piece of the lead as they play separate foes today in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the La Salle Greenhills Gym.
The Altas take on San Sebastian at 12 noon, while the Cardinals go up against Jose Rizal University in the day’s other game at 3 p.m.
Sporting identical 2-0 records, defending champion Letran and San Beda sit on top of the standings, as Perpetual and Mapua hope to force a four-way logjam, and more importantly gain headway in the short, single-round competition.
Myk Saguiguit’s coaching debut was a rousing one, as the Altas pulled off a surprisingly lopsided 77-56 victory over the Bombers last Tuesday, with holdovers Kim Aurin and Jielo Razon leading the way.
“On the performance of the veterans – Yung nakita niyo kanina, yan talaga sila. Ang tingin ko talagang magiging consistent yan dahil they are very ready for this Season 97,” said Saguiguit.
A team trying to make a return trip to the Final Four after missing the bus in 2019, Perpetual is determined to go all-out with the roster Saguiguit currently has.
“Hindi kami malakas na team, kumbaga lahat dapat yan pag-aralan. Dapat i-take talaga na parang championship kasi hindi ko nakikita na malakas yung team ko. Gusto lang din talaga nila maglaro kaya ganyan ang nakita nila ngayong first game,” said Saguiguit.
The Stags seek to rebound from last Sunday’s narrow 63-65 defeat to Arellano University, as the Recto-based squad failed to capitalized big man Justin Arana’s absence in the final minute
Coach Randy Alcantara knows that the Cardinals have to find ways to alleviate the lack of size to contend for the Final Four.
“Yung defense namin. Sa line-up namin, nakita mo naman, yung gitna namin kailangan naming tumibay dahil lahat siguro malalaki ang kalaban namin. Lumalabas si Warren (Bonifacio) lang ang pinaka-center namin,” said Alcantara after Mapua opened its campaign with a 73-67 conquest of Emilio Aguinaldo College.
Unlike last season, where the Cardinals fell short in their bid despite a strong second round showing, Alcantara stressed the need for his troops to go all-out with this year’s competition format.
“We have to treat every game as playoffs, parang kailangang-kailangan talaga. So anuman ang mangyari sa resulta, ibigay ninyo lang ang best ninyo,” said Alcantara.
Mapua is definitely now lowering its guard, as JRU is determined to rebound from its season-opening beatdown from the hands of Perpetual.