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Letran, Beda renew rivalry

Letran College and San Beda University troop to the court today oozing with confidence as the Final Four teams jockey for positions in Season 98 National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament.

Game time is at 3 p.m. at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan with the league-leading Knights parading with a 12-3 win-loss record and the Red Lions toting a 10-5 slate.

The last time the two teams played, Letran tripped Emilio Aguinaldo College, 84-77, while San Beda clipped Mapua, 71-63.

Letran head coach Bonnie Tan warned his players not to take their foes for granted.

“I always tell my players that each game has a purpose. In time for our next game against San Beda, we won’t be relaxed so at least this is a wake-up call for us that there is no weak team in the NCAA,” Tan said.

“It’s hard to lose now. Bouncing back will be difficult especially since we only have a handful of games remaining.”

Kurt Reyson, who scored 14 points against the Generals, echoed his mentor’s observations, stressing that he is looking forward to exacting payback, especially now that Brent Paraiso and Louie Sangalang are back in harness.

Paraiso and Sangalang were missing in action for Letran after being meted out with suspensions in their previous game on 30 September.

The Red Lions took advantage and emerged victorious, 76-68.

“We can’t give some confidence to San Beda because their game changes when they get confident,” Reyson said.

For San Beda head coach Yuri Escueta, their triumph over the Cardinals over the weekend enables them to play with renewed confidence.

“I’m still confident about them. I just made sure that they know how we, the coaching staff, are confident about them,” Escueta said.

“Opportunities like this are good for us. It’s like a blessing in disguise for us since we’re facing tough teams at the latter part.”

“It would be a challenge for us because they’re on a streak. It’s all about how we execute in the game. It’s Letran we’re facing so I don’t think I need to motivate them even further.”

San Beda main man James Kwekuteye, who dropped 25 points against the Cardinals, said defense will be a big factor in their game against the Knights.
“Defense wins ball games, right? Going to the next level, you have to work on the defense and the little things,” Kwekuteye said.

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