(The Arena, San Juan City)
8 a.m. – Perpetual vs CSB-LSGH (Jrs)
10 a.m. – JRU vs Lyceum (Jrs)
12 noon – Perpetual vs St. Benilde (Srs)
2 p.m. – JRU vs Lyceum (Srs)
4 p.m. – Letran vs Mapua (Srs)
6 p.m. – Letran vs Mapua (Jrs)
Lyceum’s bid to go deep this time will be put to a test today even as College of St. Benilde starts its own title quest under a new coach when the two teams collide against separate foes in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
Considered as preseason favorites, the Pirates square off with the Jose Rizal University (JRU) Bombers at 2 p.m. with both team hoping to draw level with opening-day winners San Beda Red Lions and the Arellano Chiefs.
The Blazers, for their part, collide with the dangerous University of Perpetual Help Altas at 12 noon with the former out to give new mentor, Ty Tang, a rousing welcome.
Meantime, the Mapua Cardinals try to bounce back from a disappointing 91-82 loss to the Chiefs over the weekend when they tangle with the Letran Knights at 4 p.m.
But the spotlight is expected to fall on Lyceum after figuring prominently in a preseason tournament among UAAP and NCAA teams.
The reason why the Pirates are being mentioned in the same page with the Red Lions is because of CJ Perez.
The 6-foot-1 Perez is not only quick but he’s also deadly from beyond the arc as well as in the perimeter area.
And that’s also the reason why Lyceum coach Topex Robinson is upbeat of their chances this season.
Aside from the exciting Perez, Robinson can also count on veterans Jasper Ayaay and Wilson Baltazar.
But the Bombers are no pushovers.
Apart from a crafty guard in Teytey Teodoro, JRU coach Vergel Meneses is confident that imports Abdul Poutouochi and Abdulrazak Abdulwahab will produce the numbers he and other JRU officials are expecting from them.
After dropping all but one of their 18 games, the Blazers are expected to improve under the watchful eyes of the former Rain or Shine player.
“We have faith in each other,” said Tang, who replaced Gabby Velasco late last year. “We believe that we can springboard ourselves from last year to a better level this season. And we’re not only talking about two to three wins. If we can make it to the playoffs, why not?”
But St. Benilde is up to a tough task since the Altas still have a solid core led by the 6-foot-11 Prinze Eze, Gab Dagangon, Keith Pido, and Flash Sadiwa.