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Red Lions confident

San Beda head coach Yuri Escueta braces for a tough outing against Lyceum of the Philippines University in the NCAA Final Four on Tuesday. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF NCAA

San Beda University is entering the Final Four of Season 99 National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament with a lot of confidence after finishing the elimination round with a four-game winning streak.

The Red Lions, who are holding a 12-6 win-loss record at third place, finished the elimination round with a 77-68 win over archrival Letran College and head coach Yuri Escueta is delighted they will be able to enter the semifinals on a high note.

San Beda will be playing against Lyceum of the Philippines University, which holds a twice-to-beat advantage, on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Escueta said they will make the most of the time to recover before the Lions’ big match with the Pirates.

“We’ve already suffered enough losses in the second round, and we aim to maintain the confidence that victories bring,” Escueta said.

“It’s the playoffs. All bets are off. We need to give our guys time to rest and refresh because our guys are aching. The good thing is that no one’s injured.”

San Beda has to win on Tuesday to force a do-or-die game on 1 December at 1:30 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Lions are aiming for a return trip to the finals after a four-year absence.

Both squads won one game each in the elimination round with Lyceum prevailing, 87-82, last 8 October before San Beda exacted payback last 21 November with a 74-56 victory.

For Jacob Cortez, it’s all about staying ready against a Pirates side that can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the country’s oldest collegiate league.

“I’m excited because I know they won’t just roll over after getting there. I know they will be going into the match with more than a hundred percent since they’re coming off a loss but it’s all about staying ready, being composed and sticking as a unit this Final Four,” Cortez said.

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