(Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m.-- AU vs. SBC (J semis)
4 p.m. -- UPHSD vs. SBC (S semis)
IT has been 12 years since the long-suffering University of Perpetual Help System Dalta has made it to the Finals.
Having endured some forgettable seasons after that, the Altas were able to regain their lofty status as one of the elite teams in the NCAA seniors basketball tournament.
In the three times that it faced San Beda in the Final Four from 2012-14, Perpetual Help suffered early exits despite having a star-studded roster led by Earl Scottie Thompson.
With the momentum of their side, the Altas hope to complete a reversal of the Red Lions in a do-or-die match for the remaining slot in the best-of-three championship series at 4 p.m. today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The survivor will face Arellano University, which took the first Finals slot after ousting Mapua, 92-80, last Friday.
Behind Gab Dagangon, Bright Akhuetie and Daryl Singontiko, fourth-ranked Perpetual Help stunned San Beda, 87-83, to keep its season alive.
“We won Game 1 because of our defense. Maybe in Game 2, kailangan ayusin lang namin ang offense,” said Altas mentor Jimwell Gican.
Suddenly finding themselves on the ropes, the Lions, with the twice-to-beat advantage they are holding, remain upbeat of their chances of advancing in the title round for the 11th consecutive year.
“That’s why you work hard in the eliminations to be in that position,” said San Beda coach Jamike Jarin.
The last time the Lions, the winningest team in the league with 19 championships, missed the Finals was in 2005, where the Mendiola-based cagers failed to get past the elims.
Determined to avenge its previous playoff losses to San Beda, Perpetual Help wants payback and move closer in getting the elusive first title.
“We are hungry. We really want to win. Not just me, but the whole team,” said Akhuetie.
The last time the Altas won a Final Four was in 2004, where they defeated the Lions, 58-56, in a no-tomorrow match.
In that year, Perpetual Help was swept by former member Philippine Christian University in the title round.
In the juniors division, defending champion San Beda and Arellano dispute for the right to face Mapua in the Finals in the sudden death duel set at 2 p.m.