By Jerome Lagunzad
(The Arena, San Juan City)
1 p.m. – UP vs St. Benilde
2:45 p.m. – San Beda vs Adamson
4:30 p.m. – La Salle vs FEU
7 p.m. – Ateneo vs Letran
Reigning UAAP titleholder Ateneo seeks to sustain its menacing form while perennial NCAA contender Letran aims to pull off a big surprise as they collide in what promises to be an explosive quarterfinal showdown today in the 2018 Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup at The Arena in San Juan City.
Tip off is at 7 p.m., with the Blue Eagles out to sustain their dominance after sweeping their nine-game assignment in Group A with an average winning margin of 24.5 points, the highest in the tourney’s 12-year history.
Aside from dealing with the possible effects of jet lag following their two-week training camp in Greece, the Blue Eagles will also have to brace themselves for a possible tough grind against the Knights, who finished fourth overall in Group B but are expected to give their all as they prime up for the upcoming NCAA season.
Also expected to gain a fair share of the spotlight is another knockout encounter between Far Eastern University and La Salle set at 4:30 p.m.
St. Benilde, the surprise Group B topnotcher, is determined its strong run is no fluke as the Blazers square off with the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in the 1 p.m. opener.
Back-to-back NCAA titlist San Beda is also in for a rough sailing as the Red Lions take on the Adamson Falcons at 2:45 p.m.
All eyes, however, will be on the Blue Eagles who have been on a tear behind their balanced attack led by top wingman Thirdy Ravena and 6-foot-10 Ivory Coast big man Angelo Kouame, who’s been a forced to be reckoned with down low.
Standing in their way are the reloaded Knights, who are considered by many as a genuine threat to the Red Lions’ ‘three-peat’ bid behind the presence of mainstays Bong Quinto and JP Calvo plus the addition of big men Larry Muyang, Christian Fajarito and former University of the East star Bonbon Batiller.
The Green Archers, the winningest team in league history with four titles, are expected to lean on veterans Aljun Melecio, Kib Montalbo, Andrei Caracut and Kiwi center Taane Samuel as they familiar figures on the Tamaraws’ side like Wendell Comboy, Arvin Tolentino and Jasper Parker.