COLLEGE of St. Benilde Blazers top the Season 98 elimination. — NCAA/SYNERGY-GMA

Games Tuesday
(Filoil EcoOil Centre)
12 p.m. — CSB vs San Beda
3 p.m. — Letran vs LPU

COLLEGE St. Benilde (CSB) and Colegio San Juan de Letran set out to arrange a title showdown while San Beda and Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) go all out to spoil it as the NCAA Season 98 Final Four unfolds today (Nov. 29) at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

The Blazers, who are playing their first Final Four game in two decades after ending up on top with a 14-4 record, battle the No. 4 Red Lions at 12 p.m. while the Knights, who wound up the second seed with a 13-5 mark, tackle the No. 3 Pirates at 3 p.m.

CSB and Letran earned the twice-to-beat incentive for finishing in the top two and would need just a win to advance to the best-of-three finals slated to open next week.

A deciding game, if necessary, is on Friday at the same venue.

After achieving their initial goal, CSB coach Charles Tiu said the next step is go all out to make the finals for a chance to snare the school’s second crown since its breakthrough title conquest 22 years ago.

“It’s great, we are happy, it’s one of our small goals,” said Mr. Tiu. “Hopefully we can go past the Final Four and really make a run for the championship.”

The Blazers are enjoying one of their best, if not their best, seasons to date after exceeding expectations owing to their deep bench headed by MVP frontrunner Will Gozum, Migz Oczon, Migz Corteza, Mark Sangco, Jimbo Pasturan and skipper JC Cullar.

But lacking the toughness, Mr. Tiu said it would be hard to get past the playoff round.

“Hopefully we mature and continue to grow as a team,” said Mr. Tiu.

For the Knights, they would have to find ways to recover their winning form after dropping their last elimination round game at the hands of the Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers, 87-71, last Wednesday.

While Letran would be the prohibitive favorite being the three-peat-seeking champion, it has ran into problems when it faced LPU as the two split their two elimination round matches.

The Pirates won the first meeting, 82-75, last Oct. 2 while the Knights rebounded with a 69-64 escape last Oct. 28.

“We know it’s going to be a do-or-die game for us but we’re prepared for it because we’ve treated all our games in the elimination as do-or-die,” said LPU mentor Gilbert Malabanan. — Joey Villar