Sweeping through the league last season, obviously the San Beda Red Lions eliminated Mapua along the way. Mapua came close to pulling off an early upset though in July, jumping out to an early 26-18 start through 25 turnover points and 16 second chance points. In the end though, the Lions came out on top in the fourth with a 22-16 fourth quarter, for a 69-64 final score. The defending champs took revenge in the second round though, courtesy of Garvo Lanete's 30 points, to forge a 90-78 victory.
Stat to Watch : Height is might for San Beda, allowing them to pull down the most rebounds (50.33 a game), protect the shaded lane (38.18% shooting on two pointers allowed), and deny opponents rebounds of their own (36.17 rebounds allowed). The Mapua Cardinals have height as well though, led by 6'7" Yousef Taha. It'll be interesting to see if the bigs of MIT bother the Red Lions at all.
Player to Watch : Of all the bigs, Jake Pascual has been the one who's most content to go after the rebounds, leading the team with a 9.8 average, plus blocking 1.8 shots a game. He'll most likely draw the job of guarding Taha in the post and how he fares will likely have a huge impact on this game.
Stat to Watch : For all their height, the Cardinals struggle to put the ball into the basket, or rather, they simply refuse to do that when inside the three-point circle. Not only do they average the fewest 2-point basket attempts with just 41 a game, they also convert the fewest, just 18.33 a game. That drops the average number of field goals made to a paltry 18.33, also lowest in the NCAA.
Player to Watch : Since his promotion to the starting line-up Josan Nimes has been scorching the rim, averaging 16.67 points on 45 percent shooting, hitting two triples, and pulling down six rebounds in each of the last three games. Odds are he'll find himself in a shooting duel with Garvo Lanete, but defensively, he can use his size and length to bother Lanete or at least make it a twidge more difficult for the latter to go off for 20+ points.
Prediction: SBC Red Lions