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San Beda, Letran tussle in Game Three for NCAA title

by Niel Victor Masoy, November 19, 2019 12:00am

San Beda University (SBU) and Colegio de San Juan de Letran (CSJL) face off in the sudden-death Game Three of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s basketball tournament Finals on Tuesday, November 19 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

With the championship at stake, the age-old rivals begin their tiff at 4:00 p.m.

The Red Lions and the Knights have lived up to the hype of their classic rivalry so far, splitting the first two pulsating games of the best-of-three championship series.

Letran drew first blood with a 65-64 win last Tuesday, November 12, while San Beda tied the series at one-apiece after it pulled out a 79-76 triumph last Friday, November 15.

Red Lions head coach Boyet Fernandez hopes to ride the momentum they built after a gutsy Game Two win before 18,407 fans at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“I hope we’ll sustain the momentum because playing a tough team like Letran will be hard for us but again I thank my players and the Lord for giving us another chance, another game to fight for,” said Fernandez.

“Hopefully, we can show again what San Beda basketball is,” added the multi-titled bench tactician as San Beda guns for its fourth straight championship and 23rd title overall.

On the other hand, Letran shoots for its first championship since 2015 and 18th championship overall, and stop San Beda’s four-peat bid in the process.

Despite a wasted opportunity to clinch the title last Friday, Knights team captain Jerrick Balanza took the loss in stride. The graduating 6-foot-1 guard even claims that Letran will win the deciding Game Three of the Big Dance.

“Nag-huddle kami. Pinaniwala ko sa kanila na maging positibo kahit ganito yung nangyari. Sinabi ko sa kanila na postive lang tayo,” said Balanza, sharing what he told his teammates after their Game Two loss.

“Tinatanaw kong positibo ‘to kasi pinapasarap lang ‘to ni Lord. Sa amin pa dito, sa amin pa rin ang Game Three yun ang sinabi ko sa team ko.”

Meanwhile, the San Beda Red Cubs and the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) Junior Pirates also figure in a do-or-die Finals Game Three for the NCAA Juniors division championship.

Game is set at 1:00 p.m also at the Mall of Asia Arena right before the Red Lions-Knights tiff.

The Red Cubs are out to claim their 23rd title as the Junior Pirates gun for their first-ever championshp since joining the league in 2011.

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