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Letran's Napa thinks beating Arellano's "1-2 punch" takes a "flurry"

For Letran coach Jeff Napa, it may take a "knockout" to stop the Arellano "bus".

By Ivan Saldajeno

SAN JUAN, MM—The Arellano guard combo of Jio Jalalon and Kent Salado was instrumental in the team's surge to the top of the NCAA standings.

For Letran coach Jeff Napa, containing the backcourt tandem known as "The Bus", using a funny boxing analogy, needs more than one haymaker.

"Paghahandaan namin kung anong kailangang gawin sa 1-2 punch [ng Arellano] (Jalalon and Salado). Siguro kailangan namin ng 15 punches para manalo," Napa jokingly said ahead of their crucial match at the FilOil Flying V Centre on Friday.

Arellano and Letran lock horns in the main game of a scheduled triple-header at 4 p.m.

Although the Knights got the better of the Chiefs in their previous match-up on July 14--their last three clashes dating back to last year, in fact--Napa does not want them to be complacent especially that every game now counts for his team, currently in sixth place at 8-7 and a game and a half behind the Mapua Cardinals for fourth place.

"Malakas talaga ang Arellano. Di porke't naka-isa kami sa kanila, mauulit namin iyon. All-out pa rin kami," continued Napa.

All eyes will once again be on the guard match-up between Jalalon and Rey Nambatac.

"Challenge para sa akin kung paano dedepensahan si Jalalon," Nambatac said ahead of his scoring showdown with his former teammate at PBA D-League club Racal.

It is actually a red-letter day for the league in terms of the Final Four race as five of the six teams still in contention for a semifinal seat, including the Chiefs and the Knights, will be involved.

JRU and Perpetual Help collide in the curtain-raiser at 12 p.m., while San Beda, which has been on a recent slump, battles Lyceum, the only eliminated team in the schedule, at 2 p.m.

The results of the games could bring major implications on whether there will be a repeat of last year's wild Final Four race that boiled down to the final day of the eliminations or not.

A loss by the Heavy Bombers will assure the Chiefs, the second-placed Red Lions, and the third-ranked Altas of at least a playoff for a semifinal spot.

However, if the Red Lions and the Chiefs win too, both teams will enter the semifinals outright.

Meanwhile, a win by both JRU and Arellano could put Letran at the brink of elimination.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno