LETRAN TAKES ON PERPETUAL HELP-RIZAL, EYES SHARE OF NCAA LEAD

Manila, August 6, 2003 (MALAYA) Letran College eyes a share of the lead when it takes on University of Perpetual Help-Rizal today as the 79th NCAA varsity cage tournament resumes at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

The Knights, who have improved to 5-2 after back-to-back victories to close out the first round, are hoping to join idle San Beda on top at the expense of the Altas, who are aching to arrest a five-game skid and improve their 2-5 record. Perpetual is just a notch above cellar-dwelling St. Benilde (1-7)

Defending champion San Sebastian takes on Mapua in the other seniors game.

"If we really want make it to the Final Four, we have to work harder. The competition is very stiff this year at siguradong magiging mahigpit pa ito sa second round," said Letran coach Louie Alas. "We were able to surpass our first-round record last year but we were not able to execute all of our gameplans well."

UPHR mentor Bai Cristobal is still confident the Altas can recover and clinch a semifinal seat.

"I believe na we were able to prove our team's strength nu'ng first round. Nandoon na 'yung character ng team, kaso kinakapos lang talaga 'yung laro namin sa huli. Hopefully, ma-develop na namin 'to ngayong second round para makapasok naman sa semis," said Cristobal.

The host Stags and the Cardinals are tied at fourth spot with 4-3 records and are aiming to fortify their bids to make it to top half of the Final Four.

With key players out for most of the first round due to injuries, the Stags struggled to stay in the middle of the standings.

"Hopefully sa second round, lahat nasa kundisyon na kasi we're eyeing a twice-to-beat advantage in the semis," said Stags mentor Turo Valenzona.

The Cardinals, who were edged 61-63 by the Stags in the first round, will be missing the services of center Nathaniel Cruz, who was slapped a one-game suspension for displaying a fighting stance against San Beda's Michael Casino in their last match.

"Tinalo nila (Stags) kami noon at mas lamang pa sila ngayon dahil undermanned kami. But we will go out there and give them a good fight," said Cardinals coach Horacio Lim.

In juniors action, the Letran Squires battle the UPHR Altalettes at 11:30 while the Staglets tangle with the Red Robins at 6 o'clock.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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