Tiu, Blazers wary of Red Lions

College of St. Benilde coach Charles Tiu. NCAA PHOTO

College of Saint Benidle head coach Charles Tiu wasn’t at all surprised that defending champion Letran College got clobbered by Jose Rizal University at the close of the elimination round of Season 98 National Collegiate Athletic Association of the Philippines basketball tournament.

On social media last Wednesday, Tiu said he “saw it coming from a mile.”

The Heavy Bombers upset the Knights and that loss dropped the Intramuros-based squad to No. 2 in the Final Four and the Blazers to No. 1.

The top two squads will need to win just once advance to the championships while No. 3 (Lyceum of the Philippines) and No. 4 (San Beda University) will have to strike twice.

Saint Benilde wound up with a 14-4 slate while Letran finished with a 13-5. Lyceum and San Beda each capped the eliminations with identical 12-6.

Tiu didn’t say it but he feels Letran’s gameplan was to avoid meeting San Beda in the semis as two of the Knights losses were dealt by the Mendiola-based school.

Instead, the Blazers will play the Red Lions while the Knights will collide with the Pirates.

In the first round, San Beda won, 76-68, and it repeated in the second round, 91-77.

“Wasn’t really a stunner,” Tiu said.

“It’s just something that we expected will happen. It would have been very convenient for Letran to rest their players and take it a bit easier on their last game since there was no more pressure and they had the twice to beat anyways.”

Tiu admits San Beda poses serious threats even if it doesn’t enjoy a twice-to-beat edge.

“Let’s face it, San Beda with their pedigree and history are always tough opponents. They have been the most successful program in the NCAA in the last 16 years,” said Tiu as he will be leaning on the likes of Will Gozum, Migs Oczon, Miggy Corteza and Mark Sangco in attempting to pull the plug on the Lions’ bid.

“I don’t care what their record is in the eliminations, in the playoffs it’s a different ballgame.”

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