By REYNALD MAGALLON
A pair of crucial matches, including a marquee one, is set to welcome the fans back Friday when the NCAA Season 97 returns to its home – the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City – with defending champion Letran and bitter rival San Beda clashing for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
Also worth watching is the 12 noon showdown between University of Perpetual Help and and Emilio Aguinaldo College.
Sporting similar 3-5 cards, the Altas and the Generals will be vying for the sixth and last play-in spot, a match that serves as a perfect appetizer for the Letran-San Beda duel at 3 p.m.
Letran, already assured of one of the top two spots, is slightly favored to complete an elimination sweep owing to its superb form.
The Knights will be leaning on their top players Rhenz Abando, Fran Yu, Jeo Ambohot and the rejuvenated gunner Brent Paraiso to take down their long-time rivals.
San Beda, on the other hand, will be led by main man James Kwekuteye along with a slew of young guns in the likes of JB Bahio, Rhayyan Amsali, Yukien Andrada and Tony Ynot.
It will be a huge match for San Beda as the outcome of this game will also determine the route it will have to take to reach the Finals once again.
A win for the Red Lions would allow them to secure the top seed and the outright semis berth along with the twice-to-beat incentive while a loss would drop them to the third seed and a play-in match against No. 4 team College of St. Benilde
Mapua will also be a curious spectator in the match as it will take the second spot in the standings if San Beda loses to Letran.