Altas zero in on first Final 4 in 8 years

Posted at 09/17/12 9:17 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Perpetual Help seeks to close in on its first Final Four appearance in eight years as it takes on a struggling Mapua today even as Jose Rizal U tries to bounce back against also-ran St. Benilde in the 88th NCAA men's basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.

The Altas routed the Arellano U Chiefs, 89-58, Thursday to move up to solo third with a 9-5 (win-loss) slate. Another victory over the Cardinals in their 4 p.m. encounter sends them closer to a dream semis stint.

"Our ultimate goal is to make it to the finals but we will be happy if we make it to the Final Four first," said Perpetual coach Aric del Rosario.

Perpetual edged Philippine Christian U in the tiebreak to top the elims eight years ago but the Altas settled for second after getting swept by the Dolphins for the 2004 crown.

This year, Perpetual Help hopes to go all the way.

"My promise to my boss is to make Perpetual Help a respectable basketball team," said Del Rosario referring to Perpetual Help owner Antonio Tamayo. "Now it makes the Final Four and maybe win the championship – that will be a bonus."

Perpetual will be taking on a Mapua team in dire need of a win. At 5-9, the Cardinals are on the brink, needing to sweep their last four games and hope Perpetual, Jose Rizal or Letran won’t go over nine wins to salvage a playoff for the last semis berth.

The Bombers, meanwhile, hope to check their skid and get back into the thick of things as they play the Blazers, out of it all with a 4-10 mark, at 6 p.m.

Jose Rizal, which has stayed in the top three majority of the elims, has dropped to No. 5 with an 8-6 record but the Bombers hope to get back on track with a victory over the Blazers.

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