Altas eye joint 3rd vs Pirates

Posted at 09/25/2012 9:28 AM | Updated as of 09/25/2012 9:53 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Perpetual Help takes on ousted Lyceum today, seeking to catch Letran at third and post a one-game lead over fifth running Jose Rizal University even as Mapua fights for dear life against San Beda in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which goes to Subic Bay for the league’s second out-of-town games.

The Altas are out to bounce back from a sorry 71-74 defeat to the Cardinals last week that dropped them to fourth spot with a 9-6 (win-loss) record, a shade behind Letran (10-6) but just ahead of Jose Rizal (9-7).

A win in their 6 p.m. duel with Lyceum, out of it all with a woeful 3-12 mark, would give the Altas added cushion in a spirited three-team battle for the last two semis berths heading to the crucial phase of the double-round elims.

The Las Piñas-based school, however, will play minus Nigerian big man Femi Babayemi, who was suspended for one game for a disqualifying foul in their match with Mapua.

"Our focus is to win all our remaining games for a Final Four berth," said Perpetual coach Aric del Rosario.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals, at No. 7 with a 6-9 mark, battle the Lions at 4 p.m., hoping to stay in the hunt with a sweep of their last three games although a Perpetual win would keep them out of the Final Four race along with Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals (7-9).

The pacesetting Lions, with a 13-2 slate and assured of a twice-to-beat edge in the next round, are also expected to go all-out for a victory for the momentum and confidence they would need in the Final Four.

The Subic matches mark the second time the league is holding a pair of out-of-town games after the Sta. Cruz, Laguna stop last August.