STAYING close to the solo-leading San Beda Red Lions will be the goal of the University of Perpetual Help Altas and the Arellano University Chiefs when they confront separate rivals Tuesday in the 92nd National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament at the Arena in San Juan.
The Altas, behind Nigerian big man Bright Akhuetie, are out to extend their three-game winning run when they clash with the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals at 12 noon.
Their string of victories included a 71-68 triumph over the Lyceum Pirates Friday, giving the Altas a share of second spot with a 5-2 card. The Red Lions are up ahead with their 7-0 slate.
Akhutie has been leading the Altas with his averages of 18.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks a game.
He will face off with 6’11” Cameroonian Hamadou Laminou, who is coming off a game, where he made 18 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks to power the Generals to a 73-67 triumph over the San Sebastian Stags, Friday.
“It wil be a good game because we expect them to play us strong as they also have a good import in Laminou,” said Perpetual Help coach Jimwell Gican.
The Chiefs, who need to beat the Lyceum Pirates in their 2 p.m. showdown, found themselves in a four-way tie at second with Perpetual Help, Mapua and defending champion Letran after routing the St. Benilde Blazers, 70-59, also last Friday.
The Chiefs are not expected to take it easy against the Pirates.
“We can’t underestimate Lyceum because we can also see how well they’re playing the past few games,” said Arellano mentor Jerry Codinera of Arellano.
Later, Jose Rizal University (2-4) goes up against San Sebastian (1-6) at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Arellano University Braves and the Junior Pirates pulled off a pair of big wins.
The Braves survived a closely fought encounter with the defending champion San Beda Red Cubs and escaped with an upset, 93-90, while the Lyceum Junior Pirates clobbered the University of Perpetual Junior Altas, 117-93, to move in contention for a Final Four slot.
The Braves fortified their hold on the solo lead with their eighth straight win, putting the Red Cubs in an unfamiliar situation, which is in second spot with their first loss in eight matches.
Teodoro Cecilio Jr. shot 18 points, including 10 in the third period as the Junior Pirates finally tightened on their fullcourt pressure defense and claimed their fourth win in eight outings, moving to a share of fourth with the La Salle Greenhills Greenies, the Junior Altas and the Letran Squires.