Stags, Chiefs face off; Altas play Generals
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - June 27, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - San Sebastian tries to bounce back from its opening game setback while three other teams make their debut as action in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament resumes today at The Arena in San Juan City.

Now without former aces Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang, the Stags struggled against the Letran Knights and dropped a 69-74 decision in last Saturday’s opener of the league’s 89th season.

But they are expected to encounter tough outing against the Arellano U Chiefs in their 4 p.m. match with the latter hoping to ride on their sterling pre-season performance.

The Chiefs finished ahead of the San Beda Lions after the group stages of the recent Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup.

“We’re happy that our hard work, patience and discipline is starting to bear fruits,” said Arellano U coach Koy Banal.

“But we can’t let these recent triumphs get into our heads, that’s the last thing we want to do,” he added.

The Chiefs, who will be missing Fil-Canadian Adam Jacob Serjue due to a torn MCL (medial collateral ligament) until early or middle of next month, are expected to lean again on the do-it-all pair of John Pinto and another Fil-Canadian James Forrester.

Perpetual Help and Emilio Aguinaldo College, two of the teams with intact rosters, clash in the other game at 6 p.m. with the winner joining Letran and Lyceum in the early lead.

The Pirates pulled off an early shocker by beating the fancied three-peat champions San Beda Lions, 70-66, last Monday.

“As I’ve said before, any team can beat any team this season so it will really depend on how we adjust and respond to every challenge we face during the game,” said Banal.

The Altas lost only Jett Vidal and George Allen to graduation but hope to get the most from 6-3 Kervin Lucente and 6-4 Nestor Bantayan Jr. from Adamson and Juneric Baloria from Angeles City, Pampanga and Nigerians Femi Babayemi and Nosa Omorogba and Earl Scotty Thompson, a talented guard from Davao.

“They’re not all 100-percent but at least everybody is all accounted for,” said Perpetual’s mentor Aric del Rosario, who steered the Altas to their first Final Four appearance last year, in Filipino.

Like Perpetual, EAC is another team tipped to make an impact this year with a solid roster headed by Fil-Nigerian Sydney Onwubere and Cameroonians Jean Jacques Hiola Manga and Noube Happi.

“We’re happy with our chances this season but we know it’s going to be tougher this year because all the team have improved really,” said EAC coach Gerry Esplana.

ADAMSON AND JUNERIC BALORIA ALTAS ANGELES CITY ARELLANO U ARELLANO U CHIEFS AS I CALVIN ABUEVA AND IAN SANGALANG FIL-CANADIAN ADAM JACOB SERJUE FIL-CANADIAN JAMES FORRESTER SAN BEDA LIONS
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