By Jerome Lagunzad
(Olivarez College gym)
12 noon — Lyceum-Batangas vs UB
2 p.m. — CEU vs BulSU
Defending champion Centro Escolar University guns for the solo lead once again when it faces also-ran Bulacan State University today in the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) Season 2 at the Olivarez College gym in Sucat, Parañaque City.
Already assured of a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four, the Scorpions are determined to repeat a 79-68 win over the Gold Gears last Sept. 21, stretch their winning streak to six games and claim the top spot over idle Colegio de San Lorenzo with a game to spare.
“We want to cover all the bases ahead of the playoffs,” said CEU coach Yong Garcia, hoping his wards will be at their usual best form in their 2 p.m. showdown with a BulSU side coming off a 109-101 overtime win over Lyceum-Batangas last Thursday.
“I like the way that my players have been playing lately. But I know that they still have plenty to offer as we try to make our continued adjustment in the absence of (Congolese import) Rod Ebondo.”
Meanwhile, another chapter in the “Battle of Batangas” will be written at 12 noon as Lyceum-Batangas takes on fellow eliminated team University of Batangas.
The Pirates hope to reassert their mastery over the Brahmans following an 88-84 victory last Sept. 25. But Lyceum-Batangas coach Dan Acero is expecting a strong response from a UB side eager to even up their head-to-head matchup.
“We can’t take them for granted. Their record hardly shows how tough they’ve been playing in their maiden campaign in the tourney. We have to make sure that we come up with our A-game to avoid any upset,” he said.
All eyes, however, will be on the main match, with heady playmaker Orlan Wamar expected to lead CEU’s potent offensive attack alongside Judel Fuentes, Christian Uri, Joseph Manlangit and Rich Guinitaran.
In the Scorpions’ previous victory, a 67-64 squeaker past the Sea Lions over the weekend, the 5-foot-8 Wamar waxed hot from beyond the arc with seven triples and finished with a game-high 26 points.
“He’s been the most consistent force for us so far. And he’s really proving to everyone why he’s the league’s best pointguard right now,” added Garcia of Wamar, who was adjudged as last year’s Finals MVP.