FilOil Preseason Cup: Green Archers face Red Lions for title

San Beda University Red Lions (photo from PCCL Facebook)

After nearly two months of intense basketball action… it is now down to the last two teams standing.

The De La Salle Green Archers and the San Beda University Red Lions battle it out for the country’s most prestigious preseason tournament crown, the Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup on Sunday, June 23, at 4pm at the Filoil Flying v Centre in San Juan.

San Beda, unbeaten in nine matches, hopes to win its third Filoil crown all at the expense of the 7-2 Green Archers who themselves are aiming for their fifth title overall. The Red Lions defeated the Green Archers, 83-78, in their elimination round match last June 8, but SBC head coach Boyet Fernandez doesn’t think that means the finals will be a cakewalk.

“That team (La Salle) is not only well-coached, but they have very good players,” underscored Fernandez. “You cannot say they are rebuilding. They have veterans and top recruits who are also experienced. We will have to be at our best to match them.”

Although not as deep as they were once were, San Beda has a terrific starting five in Donald Tankoua, Calvin Oftana, Clint Doliguez, James Kwekuteye, and Evan Nelle while La Salle has the amazing Justine Baltazar, sharp-shooting duo Andrei Caracut and Aljun Melecio, and the do-it-all Encho Serrano.

On La Salle’s part, head coach Gian Nazario likes how his team has grown in the space of two months. “We are healthier at the moment and able to get good performances from our starters and our bench,” said the first-year head coach. “We have some players with championship experience, but San Beda has more. So, it will come down to both experience and desire.”

On Championship Sunday, the undefeated Xavier Golden Stallions (9-0) also hope to make it a perfect season when they go up against 7-2 Colegio De San Benildo in the 11-Under Division at 9am.

Two other squads will be vying for perfection in the high school division finals when Nazareth School of National University and San Beda, both sporting 6-0 records, duke it out at 12noon.

Red Cubs head coach Manu Iñigo dispelled any notion there is pressure on his side to complete a double (along with the seniors team). “No one is talking about that,” said Iñigo. “I think NU having won the NBTC and the UAAP is the favored team. We can only give it our best and hope for the best.”

Other matches for Championship Sunday include respective battles for third place. In the 11-Under Division, La Salle Greenhills and De La Salle Zobel face off at 8am. The Lyceum of the Philippines Junior Pirates and the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta Junior Altas collide at 10am. And lastly, the Lyceum Pirates and the Adamson Falcons duke it out in the 2pm seniors match-up for the bronze.