Red Lions out to sweep first round


    REIGNING three-time titlist San Beda University tries to stretch its unbeaten run to nine and complete a first round sweep when it tackles Mapua University today in the 95th NCAA basketball tournament at the Astrodome.

    The match is set at 2 o’clock after College of St. Benilde tries to boost its hold of solo second when it battles Letran in the curtain-raiser at noon.

    Squaring off at 4 p.m. are San Sebastian College and Arellano University.

    The three games were called off twice due to typhoon “Kabayan” and to give way to Gilas Pilipinas’ 2019 FIBA World Cup campaign last Aug. 27 and Sept. 3, respectively.

    The Red Lions thumped the Blazers 88-57 last Aug. 23 to remain perfect with an 8-0 card.

    San Beda is undefeated for a year now, with its last loss coming at the hands of Lyceum 66-73 in the first round last season, on Aug. 21, 2018.

    The likes of James Canlas, Evan Nelle, Calvin Oftana, AC Soberano, Clint Doliguez, and 6-foot-5 Cameroonian import Donald Tankoua are expected to lead the Lions’ attack anew.

    After a 0-5 start, the Cardinals have won three straight, counting an 83-63 whipping of Jose Rizal U last Aug. 16.

    Gunner Laurenz Victoria, Warren Bonifacio, Noah Lugo, Christian Buñag, and rookies Paolo Hernandez and Cyril Gonzales will anchor Mapua’s bid to improve its 3-5 record.

    CSB halted a two-game losing skid via a 74-66 triumph over the Heavy Bombers last Aug. 30 in a match where deputy Charles Tiu called the shots as coach Ty Tang served a one-game suspension.

    “This game will be huge for us. We’re dreaming to get a top two spot,” said Tiu.

    “If we beat Letran at the end of the first round, we will be No. 2,” he added.

    The Blazers will pin their hopes on Fil-Am wingman Justin Gutang, Yankie Haruna, Robi Nayve, and 6-foot-7 Cameroonian reinforcement Clement Leutcheu to hike their 6-2 record.

    The Knights are raring to avenge their numbing 101-102 defeat to the Golden Stags in overtime last Aug. 20 and snap a two-game losing skid.

    Letran will rely on Larry Muyang, shooter Jerrick Balanza, Bonbon Batiller, Fran Yu, and Renato Ular as the Knights aim to go 6-3 and tie the Pirates for third.