MANILA, August 21, 2003 (MALAYA) By MARIVIC AWITAN - Defending champion San Sebastian beat Philippine Christian University 82-75 and gained a share of second spot yesterday in the 79th NCAA basketball tournament at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Six-foot-1 guard Redentor Vicente scored nine of his 14 points in a 21-6 blast as the Stags took a 61-51 lead at the end of the third period and never looked back.

The Stags improved to 7-4 and moved a slot behind league-leading Letran at 7-3 while the Dolphins bowed out of contention for a Final Four slot after absorbing their eighth loss in 11 outings.

Jose Rizal University later joined the Stags in second with an 82-77 overtime win over Mapua. The Cardinals slipped to joint fourth with San Beda at 6-4.

The Dolphins actually took a 45-40 lead early in the third period but failed to stay ahead as Vicente caught fire and gave the Stags the upperhand.

Jojo Roque drilled in a trey and Carlos Cecilia sank two free throws to cap a Dolphins rally that cut the lead down to 70-74 with 2:32 to play.

But Chris Baluyot and last year's finals MVP Leo Najorda made back-to-back baskets to pad the lead to eight and the Dolphins never threatened.

It was the Stags' second win against the Dolphins this season. The Stags won 75-72 in overtime in the first round.

UAAP: Tams face Bulldogs; Eagles face Falcons

Far Eastern U battles National University today, with the Tamaraws aiming to extend their lead in the 66th UAAP basketball tournament at the Blue Eagle Gym.

The Tamaraws are riding high on a four-game win streak, the last a 76-74 squeaker over La Salle that jacked their record to 7-1, and are heavily favored against the lowly Bulldogs who have only a win to show after eight games.

Defending champion Ateneo, in second spot with a 6-2 slate, hopes to close the gap on the Tamaraws when it takes on Adamson in the other game.

The Bulldogs have lost seven straight after their opening-day victory over UP, but Tamaraws coach Koy Banal is not discounting the possibility of an upset.

"NU has nothing to lose. Sa amin, it's still a long way to go. Hindi dahil nasa ibabaw kami ngayon, we are already assured of a slot in the finals. We still have to work our way up there," said Banal.

Banal added he wants his wards to develop their killer instinct and mental toughness going into the semifinals. "Siyempre kailangan muna naming makapasok sa Final Four and that's our immediate goal right now."

So we need to have as many wins as we can."

Sitting in fifth place at 4-4, so far their best record in more than 10 years, the Falcons will try to keep their Final Four hopes alive and avenge their 62-70 loss to the Blue Eagles last July 31.

It will be a very tough task, according to Adamson coach Luigi Trillo, especially since Ateneo is on a six-game win streak and will be playing at the Blue Eagle Gym, where the defending champions are unbeaten this season.

"We will be playing at the Blue Eagle Gym so I hope that they will give us a fair chance," said Trillo.

Adamson's Baby Falcons and Ateneo's Blue Eaglets, both sporting 6-1 slates, dispute solo lead in the juniors division in the last game.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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