Pirates, Lions eye semis playoffs

MANILA, Philippines — Co-leaders Lyceum of the Philippines U and San Beda U gun for at least a playoff for a Final Four spot as they battle Arellano U and San Sebastian College, respectively, today in the 94th NCAA seniors basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.

Tipped to clinch the top two spots in the semis, the 12-1 Pirates and the Lions try to close in on the berths with victories over the Chiefs and the Stags at 2 and 4 p.m., respectively.

Lyceum, for one, is expected to vent its ire on Arellano after its 12-game win run was snapped by Perpetual via a shock come-from-behind 83-81 victory, ending the Pirates’ bid of sweeping their way to the finals for the second straight season.

Instead, Lyceum will have to go through the Final Four where the top two teams will gain twice-to-beat edges.

“The goal is still there. Whether it will take a detour or the journey becomes longer, we’ll do our best to reach the destination we seek, which is the finals,” said LPU coach Topex Robinson.

They will tangle with an AU side toting a lowly 4-8 mark and playing its second game minus former coach Jerry Codiñera, who resigned Monday with interim coach Junjie Ablan taking over.

While the Pirates’ streak was halted, the Lions seek to extend theirs to seven as they face the resurgent Stags, who are actually on a three-game roll for joint seventh with the Mapua U Cardinals at 4-9.

“We expect a tough match especially since San Sebastian has been playing really well the past three games,” said San Beda mentor Boyet Fernandez.