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4-way tie for lead looms in UCBL tilt

By Jerome Lagunzad

Games Today
(Olivarez College gym)
12 noon. — CEU vs Lyceum-Batangas
2 p.m. — TUP vs Bulacan State University

Inaugural champion Centro Escolar University and upstart Bulacan State University eye a share of the early lead when they take on separate rivals today in the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) at the Olivarez College gym in Sucat, Parañaque City.

The well-rested Scorpions are favored to join co-leaders Diliman College and Colegio de San Lorenzo atop the eight-team field when they square off with the Lyceum-Batangas Pirates in the opener set at 12 noon.

CEU, fresh from a one-week break, is determined to come up with a fitting follow-up to a dominant 60-43 victory over Olivarez College in the rematch of last year’s finals and should have an easier job doing so against a Lyceum side smarting from a 77-112 beating dealt by CDSL over the weekend.

But second-year coach Yong Garcia refused to be carried away, saying the Scorpions should come up with a better offensive performance to complement their usual stingy defense anchored by Congolese big man Rod Ebondo.

“I want to see my players execute better offensively. They have the tendency of being impatient in running our plays that usually lead to turnovers. I’m hoping they will be better moving forward,” he said.

Also out to pick up from where they left off are the Gold Gears, who will take on a dangerous Technological University of the Philippines crew at 2 o’clock.

Bulacan State University is coming off a hard-earned 89-86 victory over University of Batangas last week and coach Antonino Tayao is expecting another tough grind against an Engineers side which gave the fancied Blue Dragons all they could handle before dropping a 65-67 decision over the weekend.

“We cannot take any team for granted. TIP just showed that it’s capable of pulling off a big surprise that’s why I’m reminding my players to stay on their toes,” he stressed.

Reigning league MVP Dominick Fajardo and prized rookie Master Antonio are expected to lead the Gold Gears’ attack against the all-Filipino Engineers side bannered by Jorey Napoles.