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(Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. – NU vs UP
4 p.m. – FEU vs UST
Defending champion Far Eastern University and National University look to join Ateneo in a three-way tie for second when they play separate rivals today in the UAAP basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Tamaraws battle the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers in main offing at 4 p.m. in their first meeting since last year’s finals, after the 2 p.m. clash between the Bulldogs and the University of the Philippines Maroons.
FEU and NU are joined by Adamson in a share of third to fifth spots and are favored to win today’s doubleheader before they meet on Wednesday at the close of the first round eliminations.
The two sides haven’t played since Sunday when they survived separate foes.
FEU avoided a fourth quarter meltdown to escape past UP, 52-49, while NU almost wasted a 22-point lead before holding off UST, 75-68.
The FEU-UST duel won’t have the same luster as their exciting title duel last December as both teams lost their top stars to graduation.
“I think more than our focus on UST, again because of our struggles, I think we have to spend more time on ourselves, improving things and hopefully we could play better against UST,” said FEU coach Nash Racela.
FEU, however, will play minus guard Ron Dennison, who will serve a one-game suspension for committing a disqualifying foul against UP’s Paul Desiderio in the fourth quarter.
NU, on the other hand, snapped a two-game slide following its win over UST. But the Bulldogs are looking to resolve their struggles closing out games, particularly when their big lead almost disappeared.
“We somehow lost our aggressiveness, we played tentative,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano. “It’s a lesson for a young team like us, we have to learn finishing games.”
Meanwhile, the UAAP is expected to finalize its decision on whether La Salle coach Aldin Ayo will be suspended for tomorrow’s game against Ateneo.