Altas eye semis bonus vs Benilde
MANILA, Philippines - Perpetual Help seeks to bounce back from a recent defeat and resume its hunt for one of two twice-to-beat incentives in the Final Four as it slugs it out with a St. Benilde side out to boost its own semifinal drive in the 89th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City today.
The Altas blew a 10-point lead in the third period and fell to the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals last Saturday, dropping them to solo third at 8-3 after sharing the lead with the Letran Knights and the San Beda Lions in a brief stretch.
But the Altas will be hard-pressed to pull off the win against the Blazers in their 6 p.m. duel with the latter out to break off a tie with the Jose Rizal U Bombers at 5-6 and move within half-a-game behind the fourth-running San Sebastian Stags (6-5).
Perpetual Help barely nipped St. Benilde in their first round meeting, hacking out a scrambling 90-89 victory in overtime last Aug. 26.
“They’re coming off a victory and we’re not. We also beat them by just a point the first time we faced them so expect another tough game,” said Perpetual Help coach Aric del Rosario, referring to the Blazers, who routed the lowly Mapua Cardinals, 74-62, last Sunday.
Nigerian Nosa Omorogbe is also out to atone for his season-low nine-point output against the Generals after coming into the match averaging 19 points.
St. Benilde will also have to clamp down on rookie sensation Juneric Baloria, who exploded for 28 points for the Altas the last time out.
“If we could stop or limit their top two scorers, or at least just one of them, we’ll have a strong chance against them,” said St. Benilde mentor Gabby Velasco.
Meanwhile, giant-killer Lyceum (4-7) hopes to ride the crest of its big 80-76 upset victory over Letran last week as it tangles with a skidding Arellano U (3-8) at 4 p.m.
The Pirates, led by Cameroonian Aziz Mbomiko’s 22-point, seven-rebound and five-steal effort, thus became the only team to beat both Letran and San Beda this season.