MANILA -- San Beda will begin its quest for another back-to-back title in the 87th National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball tournament on Monday even as perennial contender San Sebastian tries to steal the thunder from the defending champions.
The best-of-three championship series will kick off at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City with thousands of fans expected to troop the cavernous venue for the third installment of the storied cage rivalry.
The Red Lions, who will be gunning for their fourth varsity title under coach Frankie Lim, reached the finals after disposing of the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, 83-74, in the Final Four.
For its part, the Stags needed to exhaust their twice-to-beat advantage, yielding the first, 62-70, before winning the second, 63-56, against the Letran Knights to advance to today's finals.
San Beda and Sebastian met in the finals of the last two seasons with the Lions copping the crown through an 18-sweep in 2010 and the Stags winning the diadem a year back.
Game is set at 4 p.m., right after Game 1 of the juniors’ finals between the SBC Red Cubs and the College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills Greenies at 2 p.m.
The Red Cubs, owing to their spotless 18-0 record in the eliminations that gave them the outright finals seat, own a thrice-to-beat advantage and need only to win today to clinch the title.
u201cWe may have won our last two games against them (Stags), but this is the finals. This is a different ball game. We expect them to come out prepared and ready,” Lim said.
The Stags, meanwhile, will continue to rely on the talented trio of Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang and the Ronald Pascual.
But San Sebastian rookie coach Topex Robinson pointed out that his bench should also do their homework as well, especially against a balanced team like the Red Lions.
u201cIt’s not about the Big Three, it’s about everyone,” he said. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)