There won’t be a quick route to the Finals in case the Letran Knights complete an immaculate slate in the nine-game elimination round of the NCAA Season 97 men’s basketball tournament, with the only bonus awaiting them being a twice-to-beat bonus in the Final Four.

On Tuesday, the Knights try to step closer to a sweep by taking on the San Sebastian Stags at La Salle Greenhills Gym as they shoot for an eighth straight win in the 3 p.m. match.

Coming off a 14-point loss to Mapua, San Beda, meanwhile, tries to get back on track when it slugs it out with College of Saint Benilde in a game that will have major implications for a top two spot. The game is set at 12 noon.

The Red Lions are running second with a 6-1 card, just ahead of the idle 6-2 Cardinals.

Running fourth with a 5-3 slate, the Blazers’ chances of making it to the Final Four outright will vanish with a loss and St. Benilde will be relegated to the play-in stage.

This shortened season’s format calls for no outright Finals berth for any team that sweeps the eliminations. But winning still remains a motivation for the Knights as they need to gear up for a titanic clash with bitter rival San Beda on Friday.

The Final Four is set on May 8 right after the play-in stage.

Letran, which ruled the last edition before the pandemic closed down sports in the country, will be coming off an 81-59 destruction of Jose Rizal over the weekend and is picked heavily against the 3-5 Stags.

And after failing to keep in step with the Knights by taking a 68-54 loss at the hands of the Cardinals, the Lions now need to sweep their last two games just to be assured of getting a top two berth and not drop into the play-in stage.

—June Navarro INQ

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