NCAA returns to the spotlight as San Beda takes on Arellano in the second round of the Season 98 men’s basketball tournament Wednesday, Nov. 2, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.

James Kwekuteye of the San Beda Red Lions (NCAA/GMA)

After a series of postponements due to typhoon Paeng over the weekend as well as the observance of All Saints’ Day, the Red Lions return from a break and clash with the Chiefs in the 12 p.m. curtain-raiser while the Mapua Cardinals hope to keep the ball rolling when they face the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers in their 3 p.m. affair.

San Beda and Arellano’s initial matchup, which was set Oct. 18, was postponed after at least players from the Chiefs were reportedly tested positive for Covid-19 but it’s now all systems go as both teams seek to sustain their winning ways.

A fiery Tony Ynot broke out of his shell and carried the cudgels for the Lions when he dropped 25 points along with 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals in their 72-64 win against the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals last Oct. 25.

Against the hungry Chiefs though, it would take more than Ynot for the Lions, who hold a 7-4 record, as the likes of James Kwekuteye, JB Bahio, and Peter Alfaro need to join in the fray and showcase their starter roles.

On the other end, the dynamic duo of Cade Flores and Axel Doromal is something that San Beda should be wary about as Arellano beat Lyceum, 77-63, last Oct. 26.

Flores showed that he’s more than a bruiser as he became the Chiefs’ do-it-all big man with 23 points on top of 12 rebounds, seven steals, and two assists.

Doromal, for his part, put up 18 points and five rebounds and orchestrated most of the playmaking for Arellano to chalk up five assists.

Veteran Shane Menina, however, also needs to step up this time around and form the trio that the Chiefs, who had a 5-6 slate, were accustomed to if they wanted to beat a powerhouse team in the Lions.

After all, San Beda drew first blood in the first half of the tournament with a 35-point thrashing last Oct. 7 behind the balanced efforts of Kwekuteye, Bahio, Ynot, Justine Sanchez, and Jacob Cortez.

In the second game, Mapua hopes to take its third straight win as it fights for dear life in the second round against the skidding JRU.

The Cardinals drew the confidence they needed after pulling off an upset win against the league-leaders College of St. Benilde Blazers and following it up with a victory over the Generals.

Nat Cosejo continued to provide the spark for Mapua but a set of supportive cast is what he needed against an equally-eager squad in JRU.

The Bombers need to avoid a second-half collapse this time around as their offense is already on a balanced footing given the presence of Ry De La Rosa, who once exploded with 26 points in their 92-79 loss against the Blazers, John Amores, and Joshua Guiab.

Source: Manila Bulletin (