Four schools battle for spot in NCAA Finals
MANILA, Philippines – With the 4 schools completing the crossover semi-final phase, NCAA Season 91’s Final Four stage commences on Tuesday, October 20 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
No. two-rated Colegio de San Juan de Letran squares off with No. 3-seed Mapua Institute of Technology at 2 pm, while top seed San Beda College meets No. 4-ranked Jose Rizal University afterwards.
Both San Beda and Letran have a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four, meaning the aforementioned squads will only need to win once to advance in the championship round.
Meanwhile, Mapua and JRU will have to defeat their respective counterparts twice to earn a spot in the Finals.
San Beda aims for a record-setting sixth-straight NCAA basketball championship and ninth collegiate title in 10 years.
On the other hand, JRU has the longest championship drought in the league’s history with 42 title-less seasons as the Heavy Bombers last won an NCAA basketball trophy in 1972, which was led by the Cezar brothers and coached by Francisco "Kiko" Calilan.
The last time that JRU made a trip to the Finals was in 2008 when the Kalentong-based troop yielded to San Beda in 3 games.
In the second match-up, a tough test awaits Letran as Mapua has only been defeated once in the second round of eliminations.
Atoy Co’s crew inserted Mapua’s name in the Final Four picture by winning 8 of their 9 outings in the last leg of the double-round elimination phase and secured the No. 3 position in the semi-finals by ousting Arellano University on October 13 before trouncing JRU 3 days later.
This is the first time Mapua has made a regular Final Four appearance since 2008 as in 2010, the Cardinals had to face and eventually lost to JRU in the first round of a stepladder series. San Beda won its 16 elimination matches that year to qualify for the Finals outright and claim a thrice-to-beat edge in the championship.
In the other corner, Letran enters the Final Four for the first time since 2013 as the Knights had a sixth-place finish of a 9-9 standing last year.
The Aldin Ayo-mentored squad had an impressive run in the regular season, picking up notable victories over powerhouse squads such as San Beda, Arellano, University of Perpetual Help System Dalta and JRU.
Letran and Mapua were 1-1 against each other in the eliminations as the Knights walked away with an 80-77 win on August 14, while the Cardinals avenged the disappointing setback with an 82-77 upset on September 15. – Rappler.com