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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Lyceum, San Beda dispute 2nd finals’ berth

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San Beda and Lyceum of the Philippines University go at it one final time as they battle for the last finals berth today in NCAA Season 99 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Lions will try to ride the momentum they built following an emphatic 89-68 decimation of the Pirates in their first Final Four showdown Tuesday at the MOA Arena.

It set up a 3 p.m. knockout duel that would catapult the winner straight to the best-of-three finale against Mapua, which made quick work of College of St. Benilde in their own semis duel, tentatively slated Sunday or Monday at a still unspecified venue.

Jacob Cortez will be the player to watch out for after unleashing a stellar and a career-high 28-point performance that he laced with eight assists, four rebounds and three steals.

It was made more impressive that son of former La Salle and PBA standout Mike Cortez did it in just 11 shots as he hit nine of it including four from beyond the arc apart from his six free throws.

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And Cortez will be laser-focused to replicate it and carry the Benedictine school back to the finals since making it that far in 2019 before losing to eventual winner Letran.

“Focus na kami next game, do or die game,” said Cortez.

San Beda will also be eyeing a crack at its first title since 2018 and a league-best 23rd overall.

But San Beda coach Yuri Escueta isn’t looking that far just yet.

“I told the players we’re not thinking about the championship. Ito lang game na ito iisipin namin, we want to stay in the present,” said Escueta.

Escueta also put emphasis on executing its lockdown defense to near perfection again.

“Focus on this game, we have to lock in defensively and focus on it para hindi masyado isip ng isip pa,” he said.

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