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Red Lions gun for crown

Games Today
(Mall of Asia Arena)
1 p.m. – Mapua vs San Beda (Jrs.)
4 p.m. – San Beda vs Arellano (Srs.)

Arellano Chiefs hope to force winner-take-all.

The bitter memory of last year’s finals defeat is something the San Beda Red Lions hope to finally bury as they look to reclaim the NCAA basketball crown in Game 2 of their best-of-three series with the Arellano University Chiefs at the Mall of Asia Arena.

San Beda moved a win shy of capturing its ninth title in 11 seasons after an 88-85 victory in the finals opener last Thursday, prompting coach Jamike Jarin to declare today’s 4 p.m. match as the season’s toughest game.

For the Red Lions to repeat over the Chiefs and stage another party near the historic Chino Roces Bridge in Mendiola, they will need another inspiring performances from veteran guard Dan Sara and rookie transferee Robert Bolick.

The two former La Salle players led the way in the thrilling win, even conspiring on the go-ahead basket that saw Sara feeding Bolick for a fastbreak layup that gave San Beda the lead for good.

Jarin was quick to praise Sara, eyeing a third title in his final season, for his Game 1 performance of six points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

“This is what I was expecting of him, medyo na-derail lang because of his injury. But now he has come of age,” said Jarin, referring to a hand injury Sara sustained during the elimination round.

Bolick, who three years ago won a UAAP title for La Salle in a benchwarmer role, has been a major component in San Beda’s title bid, highlighted by a 24-point showing in Game 1.

And with Davon Potts, Javee Mocon, Arnaud Noah and Ben Adamos expected to play consistent, the Red Lions enter as favorites to sweep the Chiefs for the second time in three finals and rebound from last year’s devastating loss to the archrival Letran Knights.

That is something Jio Jalalon and the rest of the Chiefs would like to at least delay as they are aching to rebound from seeing their 13-point comeback fall short in the opener.

Jalalon was under fire after the loss when he opted to give the ball to Dioncee Holts for a game-winning jumper instead of even trying to go for a drive to the basket. The ace guard later claimed that his hurting foot denied of him a chance to do so.

Jalalon has vowed to redeem himself that setback, so is Arellano coach Jerry Codiñera.