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Lions, Chiefs renew rivalry

By Jerome Lagunzad

Games Today
(The Arena, San Juan City)
12 noon — JRU vs Mapua (J)
2 p.m. — JRU vs Mapua (S)
4 p.m. — San Beda vs Arellano (S)
6 p.m. — San Beda vs Arellano (J)

Familiar faces take center stage today when defending champion San Beda squares off with Arellano University in a rematch of last year’s finals as the opening round of the NCAA seniors basketball eliminations draws to a close at The Arena in San Juan City.

Tip off is at 4 o’clock, with the well-rested Red Lions out to stretch their winning streak to seven matches and continue to stay hot on the heels of the rampaging Lyceum Pirates, who have been invincible so far after nine games.

San Beda, however, will have to do it against an unpredictable Arellano side coming off a morale-boosting 87-81 victory over St. Benilde last Friday and determined to keep itself in strong contention for a Final Four berth.

Serving as a fitting appetizer is the 2 p.m. showdown between resurgent Jose Rizal University and free-falling Mapua.

After a sluggish start, the Heavy Bombers have finally gotten their acts together and appear favored to extend their own win-run to four and tighten their grip on the third spot against an under-strength Cardinals crew which has dropped its last six games.

But falling into a false sense of complacency is JRU coach Vergel Meneses’ main concern. “We cannot be overconfident against Mapua. They can play. And if we don’t do things right, they can beat us,” he warned.

San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez also sounded quite the same as he urged the Red Lions, fresh from a 12-day break since scoring a 57-53 victory against Perpetual Help, to keep their guards up against the upset-conscious Chiefs.

“We have to bring our defensive mentality if we want to end the first round with a win,” he said. “It’s a tough match up for us because (Kent) Salado, (Levi) Dela Cruz and the other Chiefs are playing well right now.”