Basketball fans have marked August 6, 2015 as a pivotal day in the 91st Season of the National Collegiate Athletics Association.
Four of the leagues’ Final Four contenders from last season are pitted against each other on this day as the defending champions San Beda College Red Lions (5-1) face the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers (4-2) during the day’s opening game. In the 4:00pm game though, two heavyweight teams clash as the Arellano University Chiefs and the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas look to bounce back from devastating losses received from the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights (7-0) and the San Beda Red Lions respectively.
The main game of the day features a marquee match-up between NCAA Season 90 Most Valuable Player Earl Scottie Thompson and fourth-year guard Jio Jalalon. Known to be close friends due to their stint with the National Team, the two skippers will face-off in a game that will help boost their teams’ bid for a Final Four ticket.
The Perpetual Altas started-off hot in the season with a 4-0 slate. The team dominated all their opponents during that streak until they faced the Letran juggernaut. Team captain Scottie Thompson led the team in scoring with 22 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and dished out six assists. However, Thompson committed a team-high seven turnovers in the game. In a tough stretch of games, the Altas next faced the Red Lions and went toe-to-toe with the champions but a costly turnover by Thompson paved the way for a Red Lion win. The Altas’ captain scored just ten points and was just 5/13 shooting from the charity stripe. Moreover, Thompson faced a lot off double teams throughout the game that limited his shot attempts and his vision for passing.
On the other end, the Arellano University Chiefs went on a rampage after dropping their first game against the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers. Led by their court general Jio Jalalon, the Chiefs cruised to a four game winning streak before facing the Letran Knights. Jalalon faced constant double teams that disrupted the play set by the Jerry Condinera-mentored squad. Jalalon finished with just ten points and five assists in a loss that halted the team’s streak.
Tomorrow, the two Smart Elite ambassadors will face-off for the first time since sharing the hardcourt in Kailang, Singapore. The two contenders for this year’s Most Valuable Player crown are more than ready for this pivotal game.
For Thompson, the only guard in the top ten in rebounding and second behind Jalalon in assists, the task of facing last year’s runners-up is one of the toughest challenges they face this season. “Para sakin naman isa sila pinakamahirap na kalaban this season,” he told Tiebreaker Times. But for him, he is more than ready especially with the seven day-break that he used to heal his body. “Malaking tulong yung break kasi may mga two-games sa isang linggo kami nun.”
Jalalon, on the other hand, knows that they need to stop the Altas’ floor general right from the get go in order for them to win. “Siguro una kailangan namin ma-stop si Scott kasi siya lang yung nagpapagana ng team niya,” he said. However, he further added that Gab Dagangon should also be checked at all times. “Yung Gab naman kailangan din namin depensahan kasi may shooting. Mahirap na pag na-stop namin si Scott tapos si Gab at yung [foreign student-athlete] nilang dalawa mataas yung score lalo kaming mahihirapan.”
The Altas’ fifth year guard told Tiebreaker Times that there is no rivalry between the two. They are just two players giving their all for the ultimate goal of a championship. “Kami naman ni Jio laro lang kami para sa team. Nothing’s personal naman. Pareho kaming dalawa, gustong manalo. So gagawin namin ang lahat para sa team.”
With all the fanfare involved in their match-up, both Jalalon and Thompson know the importance of a win for their respective teams. “Sobrang kailangan namin manalo,” Thompson said with emphasis. “Kasi dalawang sunod na kaming talo so must-win situation kami sa mga natitira pa naming mga games.” For the Cagayan De Oro native though, he thinks that his team should not think about their recent loss too much for them to win their game tomorrow. “Kailangan lang namin gawin yung mga ginawa namin nung four straight [wins] namin. Defense ang magpapanalo sa amin,” he closed.
Scottie Thompson and the Perpetual Altas will face Jio Jalalon and the Arellano Chiefs tomorrow at 4:00pm with the victor gaining solo third in the standings.
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