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NCAA: After clinching semis bonus, San Beda enters playoff mode

The Red Lions (seen in this file photo) are now in playoff mode. Josh Albelda, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines — Defending champion San Beda University is aiming to reach another gear heading into the closing stretch of the elimination round of the NCAA Season 94 men’s basketball tournament.

The Red Lions improved to 15-1 by crushing Arellano University, 90-52, on Thursday. With the win, they also assured themselves of a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final 4 with still two games left on their schedule.

However, their remaining games are no cakewalk: San Beda plays Lyceum of the Philippines University on October 18, and University of Perpetual Help on October 23. The Pirates are also assured of a twice-to-beat edge, while the Altas are in the Final 4.

“We'll always consider all our games, our remaining games in the eliminations as a playoff game. So that by the time that we come into the semifinal stage, we'll be ready for anybody we're gonna play,” San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez said after their win over Arellano.

“Again, we're happy we achieved our goals right now of making it to the top 2 and having a twice-to-beat advantage but we still have two more games to go. So, we just have to be ready every game,” he added.

The game against Lyceum is especially interesting, as it will be a rematch of last year’s finals and will play a factor into determining the No. 1 seed. Already, Fernandez is anticipating a “tough one" against the Pirates — a team that they swept in last season’s finals.

“They played really well today (against De La Salle-College of St. Benilde), so we just have to be ready for them,” he said. “As what I’ve said, every game is a playoff game for us, starting with the LPU game.”

“So we’ll be ready,” he vowed.

Fernandez will once again be banking on his veteran core of Robert Bolick, Javee Mocon, and Donald Tankoua, but stressed that their bench will have to show their wares as well — especially against the Pirates.

“Kailangan everybody talaga mag-step up,” said Mocon, who torched Arellano for 24 points on Thursday. 

“Rest assured that even though we’re in the Top 2, we’re still gonna play our 100%,” added Fernandez. 

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)

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