College of St. Benilde collides with winless Jose Rizal Bombers in lone 97th NCAA offering

COLLEGE of St. Benilde (CSB) aims to keep its streak going while Jose Rizal University (JRU) fights for dear life as the two collide on Tuesday in the lone offering of the 97th National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament at the La Salle Greenhills Gym.

The Blazers downed the Perpetual Help Altas, 83-73, on Saturday for their fourth straight victory and a 4-1 record and could stretch it to five with another win in their 3 p.m. duel with the Bombers, who remained winless in five starts.

It would also keep CSB’s stranglehold of the No. 3 spot and stay dangerously close to pace-setting Letran and San Beda, which are both unscathed in four outings.

While they appeared to be the favorites, neophyte CSB coach Charles Tiu was quick to defunct that notion.

“No team is easy picking, no games are easy. JRU doesn’t look like a winless team to me. I feel they had games when they probably deserved to win or should have won,” said Mr. Tiu.

The Taft-based dribblers are also eyeing to finish in the top two, which would give them not just an automatic Final Four berth but also a twice-to-beat advantage.

If it happens, they will be free from going to the complication of the play-in where the third to sixth placed squads will play each other in knockout showdowns for the right to claim the last two Final Four seats.

Mr. Tiu, however, prefers to take it a game at a time.

“We’ll just try to give it our best every game and we hope the results will follow,” he said.

MVP candidate Will Gozum is expected to lead the way anew for the Blazers along with AJ Benson, Robi Nayve and Miggy Corteza.

For JRU, it would need to sweep its last four games to have a chance at catching the last bus to the play-in. — Joey Villar