A pair of exciting games will open up this week’s action in Season 88 of the NCAA at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan starting off with the matchup between the Mapua Cardinals and the Perpetual Altas at 4 p.m.
Perpetual Help crushed the Arellano Chiefs, 89-58, in their second round meeting a few days ago. The Altas are currently hanging onto the third spot with a 9-5 record with the Letran Knights not far behind at 9-6.
The Mapua Cardinals are coming off a 77-62 defeat from last year’s runners up San Sebastian last week. The Cardinals are currently in a three-way logjam with the EAC and Arellano University with similar 5-9 win-loss records.
Jett Vidal, Scott Thompson and the rest of the Altas will have to step their game up a notch higher as they seek an important win against the Cardinals. In their first meeting last July 26, the Las Pinas boys got a hard earned 94-88 overtime win over the Intramuros-based Cardinals with Thompson scoreing a team-high 22 points in that outing.
“Sana kahit maipanalo namin two of our last four games,” said Perpetual coach Aric Del Rosario. The Altas face a tough schedule ahead, having yet to play the top two teams San Beda and San Sebastian in the second round.
“Dati ipinapanalangin ko, sana makapag-finals kami. Siguro, sabi ng Diyos, masyadong mataas yung pangarap ko kaya for now, top four na muna,” added Del Rosario.
A win for the Altas will put them one game ahead of the idle Letran Knights.
Mapua, meanwhile, will lean on steady performers Mike Parala and Josan Nimes to keep them afloat as they still hold a virtual chance of making it to the next round.
In the other game at 6 p.m., the JRU Heavy Bombers look to grab another win over Saint Benilde in order to keep their hopes of a return trip to the final four alive.
JRU is coming off a sorry 69-62 overtime loss to the ‘Lucky Nine’ of the Lyceum Pirates, who played with just nine players.
Byron Villarias threw a prayer at the buzzer that forced overtime but the Pirates overcame the Bombers in the extra period.
Saint Benilde, which is at the 9th spot with a 4-10 win-loss record, is out of contention for the playoffs but still have plenty of motivation coming into the game.
“We just don’t want to end up in the last spot but the players still want to improve and gain their confidence back,” said Blazers coach Richard Del Rosario.
The Blazers are looking to play the spoiler’s role on the Heavy Bombers, who are trying to catch up to the Knights in the standings for the fourth spot.