Mismatch much? In recent years, San Beda has been held up as the team to beat in the NCAA while St. Benilde has often been looked down on as a perennial cellar dweller. Such is what happened last season as the Red Lions, almost like a cat and its prey, let Benilde stay close or even lead earlier on, before pouncing on them and blowing them out, 87-61 in round one, and 89-70 in round two. Last season's rookie of the year Carlo Lastimosa has made some impact, but he's often the only one out there scoring as the rest of his teammates get shackled by the defense of the Red Lions.
Stat to Watch : How does San Beda beat the zone? By running down the floor and jamming the ball into the hoop before defenders can set up, that's how. In addition to some improved three-point shooting (2/14 in the first game, 13/40 since), the Red Lions average 21.67 fast break points, often scoring before the all five guys on defense have crossed the midcourt line.
Player to Watch : Baser Amer's numbers have slowly been rising. In his last game, he clocked in at 6 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, bringing his average to 5.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
Stat to Watch : Benilde won their game versus Mapua in part because the Cards barely put any pressure on the ball handlers, and as a result, the Blazers turned it over only 10 times, giving up only 8 turnover points. They'll need to play with that same poise against San Beda, who would want nothing more than to start fast breaks and score in transition.
Player to Watch : As the only other Blazer averaging more than 30 minutes a game, Mark Romero has been a do-it-all type of player for CSB. Nominally a power forward, Romero's game extends to beyond the three-point line while still leading the Blazers with 7.3 rebounds. He'll be facing a large variety of long-armed athletic big men on the San Beda roster, and we'll have to see if he'll be up to the task against them.
Prediction: SBC Red Lions