MANILA -- The San Sebastian Stags try to duplicate the feat of its junior counterparts in making it into the championship series as it tangles with Jose Rizal University Friday at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Stags and the Heavy Bombers are jostling for the last finals spot in the 86th National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball tournament after pacesetting San Beda made the big leap by sweeping the 16-game elimination round last September 29.
In juniors play, San Sebastian and San Beda disposed their opponents last Wednesday to arrange a best-of-three title series.
JRU earlier survived the mighty stand of fourth placer Mapua Cardinals, 60-54, behind Cameroonian Joe Etame who dished out a career high 17-points including 10 in the fourth quarter.
The 6-foot-7 Etame, one of the two Africans playing for the Bombers with the other one being John Njei, got help from fifth year player Marvin Hayes, who pumped in six of his eight points in crucial stretches of Jose Rizal’s recent win.
“I hope he comes up with a game like that again against San Sebastian, we would dearly need it,” said Jose Rizal mentor Vergel Meneses, who’ve already duplicated the feat of San Beda’s Frankie Lim and San Sebastian’s Ato Agustin for advancing as far as the playoff on their rookie season as a coach.
Game time is set at 2 p.m. as San Sebastian hopes to win this contest in order to defend its crown versus its Mendiola-based neighbor in the championship series next week.
“We’re a little bit rested while they have to scrape their way to victory. But it wouldn’t matter in this kind of atmosphere where the stakes are high,” said San Sebastian coach Ato Agustin, who is hoping to end his collegiate basketball stint with another crown.
Agustin is the new coach of the multi-titled San Miguel Beermen in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
San Sebastian is expected to rely anew on MVP race leader Calvin Abueva as Ronald Pascual, the team’s second-leading scorer, could be a doubtful starter again after missing four straight games due to a recurring sickness. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)