San Beda in unchartered territory against CSB

San Beda will be in an unfamiliar territory when it tangles with College of St. Benilde for one of the two remaining Final Four seats in the NCAA Season 97 play-in round Sunday, May 1 at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

Photo from GMA NCAA

The third seed Red Lions figure in a huge collision against the No. 4 Blazers in the first offering of the play-in at 12 noon.

Also a crucial match is the 3 p.m. showdown between the fifth seed Perpetual Altas and the No. 6 Arellano Chiefs who both hope to extend their tournament lives and get the chance to face the loser of the San Beda-CSB pairing.

For the first time in 17 years or since 2005, San Beda won’t be holding a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs and could even miss the semifinals altogether if it loses twice in the play-in.

San Beda lost to rival Letran, 59-56 in the final game of the eliminations on Friday which caused them to fall to the No. 3 seed after ending up tied with Mapua in the standings with similar 7-2 records.

The Cardinals secured the semis seat and the twice-to-beat edge by virtue of their 68-54 victory over the Red Lions last April 23.

Despite getting pushed out of their usual playing field, San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez still likes their chances in making it to the Final Four.

“I still believe that we have a good chance. At least my team realized that we are a good team with the way we played tonight and hopefully we continue to improve on that,” said Fernandez.

The veteran tactician admitted that they will have their hands full against the dangerous Blazers side. San Beda narrowly escaped CSB, 67-63 in the eliminations with James Kwekuteye hitting the dagger trey late in the game.

“I'm sure my boys will be ready for everything, especially we're gonna play Saint Benilde right away on Sunday so just a one-day off. I have so much respect for coach Charles and I know they'll be ready, muntik pa nga kami matalo nung last time,” he added.

Kwekuteye who finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds in that victory is expected to lead the young San Beda squad anew against a potent CSB crew spearheaded by Will Gozum and Robi Nayve.