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Semis ‘bonus’ at stake

Games Today (The Arena, San Juan City)
9 a.m. – SSCR vs EAC (Jrs.)
10:45 a.m. – JRU vs Letran (Jrs.)
12:30 p.m. – UPH vs Lyceum (Jrs.)
2:15 p.m. – SBC vs Arellano (Jrs.)
4 p.m. – Mapua vs CSB-LSGH (Jrs.)

Three teams aim to bolster their respective twice-to-beat semifinal bids today in NCAA juniors basketball at The Arena in San Juan City.

Arellano collides with bitter rival San Beda at 2:15 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s championship match, while Malayan-Mapua and CSB-La Salle Greenhills tangle at 4:00 p.m.

All four teams are already Final Four contenders, with San Beda enjoying the top seed and a twice-to-beat semis edge.

But the matches are crucial for CSB-LSGH and Arellano, as a loss for both teams would end their chances for the remaining twice-to-beat ticket. The Greenies and the Braves are currently tied at third to fourth places with identical 13-4 marks following recent losses against San Beda (85-82) and Mapua (84-71), respectively.

Aside from bolstering its twice-to-beat semis campaign, last year’s bridesmaid Arellano is also eager to duplicate its 93-90 first-round triumph over San Beda last Aug. 1 to reaffirm its mastery over the defending champions this season.

The deadly trio of Guilmer Dela Torre, Lars Sunga and Aaron Fermin is set to banner Arellano against San Beda’s own core of Evan Nelle, Joshua Tagala, and Sam Abu Hijle.

Abu Hijle, for his part, will be a threat in the paint after hauling 11 rebounds the last time, but Arellano has Sunga to match up his brute strength.

San Beda coach JB Sison is more concerned on preparing for the Final Four.

“We just want to prepare ourselves physically and mentally and of course we want to go to the Final Four coming off a win,” said Sison.

In other matches, San Sebastian (2-14) and Emilio Aguinaldo College (3-13) square off at 9 a.m., Jose Rizal University (3-13) and Letran (7-10) meet at 10:45 a.m., and University of Perpetual Help (5-12) duel with Lyceum (8-9) at 12:30 p.m.