Jose Rizal University and Perpetual make their tournament debuts while opening day losers Lyceum and Benilde aim to bounce back in the National Collegiate Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 97 men’s basketball today at the La Salle Greenhills Gym.
The Heavy Bombers and Altas return to action after a long absence in the curtain raiser at 12 noon while the Pirates go up against the Blazers in the second game at 3 p.m.
Both Lyceum and Benilde search for their first win after suffering narrow defeats in their opening games last Saturday.
The Blazers, after leading for the most part of the game against the Letran Knights, collapsed in the final frame and absorbed a 67-63 decision.
The Charles Tiu-mentored squad led by as many as 12 points but lost steam in the payoff period after being limited to just eight markers.
The Blazers hope to address their fourth quarter struggles as they lean on AJ Benson who had a stellar debut with 16 points and eight rebounds. Will Gozum, Ladis Lepalam and JC Cullar also need to step up if CSB wishes to get the bounce back win.
Standing in their way, however, are the Pirates, who likewise dropped their opening game against the San Beda Red Lions, 84-76. The gritty Lyceum fell short of its comeback bid after cutting the once 19-point lead to just six, midway through the final frame.
Enoch Valdez, who exploded for 22 points vs San Beda, aims to continue his fine play against the Blazers while coach Gilbert Malabanan hopes to see more contributions from the likes of Renzo Navarro, Yancy Remulla and Jerwyn Guinto.
Meanwhile, the Heavy Bombers are parading an intact lineup for Season 97 with holdovers JL delos Santos and Marwin Dionisio ready to take much bigger roles. Also out to make an impact for JRU are transferees EJ Agbong and Marwin Dionisio.
On the other hand, the Altas are looking at Kim Aurin, Jielo Razon and Jeff Egan to spearhead the season for new coach Myk Saguiguit. Eyes are also on 6-foot-5 Marc Omega from Letran High School and the rookies from Perpetual High School program Yuki Kawamura, Edzel Galoy, Jearico Nuñez, Joey Barcuma.
The Altas and the Heavy Bombers finished Season 95 with identical 5-13 win-loss record.