DEFENDING champion San Beda and Lyceum of the Philippines University seek to arrange a Finals rematch against teams making their return Final Four stint in the NCAA men's basketball tournament today at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The top-ranked Red Lions take on No. 4 University of Perpetual Help System Dalta at 4 p.m., while the second seed Pirates tangle with No. 3 Letran at 1:30 p.m.
Armed with twice-to-beat advantage by capturing the top two spots in the double-round eliminations, San Beda and LPU need to win once to meet in the best-of-three championship for the second straight season.
The Lions completed a head-to-head elims sweep of the Altas with a 80-72 win in a no-bearing match last Tuesday, while the Pirates and the Knights split their two meetings this season.
After absorbing its lone loss of the tournament to LPU, San Beda went on a rampage, winning 11 consecutive games to finish as the No. 1 team in the double-round elims with a 17-1 slate.
“Hindi naman ako sa nagmamayabang, but I'm really surprised the way my boys played in the second round,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez.
“After our loss to LPU in the first round, it's really a change of mindset of the players. They really worked hard.”
Unlike last year where they jumped straight to the Finals via 18-0 sweep, the Pirates finished the eliminations with a 15-3 record in second place.
The Pirates were coming off a 68-75 setback to the Lions a week ago - the first time that they lost to the 21-time champions in four elimination round meetings dating back from last season.
To avoid having an abrupt end to their return trip to the Final Four, Perpetual Help and Letran must leave everything on the floor despite having twice-to-beat disadvantage against fancied opponents.
The Altas, who gave the Lions fits before dropping a narrow 65-67 decision on last July 7, need to keep the game close just like what happened in their opening day showdown to keep their season alive.
The Knights, seeking to reclaim the throne they won in 2015 under then coach Aldin Ayo, have already figured out how to beat the Pirates just like in their 80-79 win last Oct. 5.