(The Arena, San Juan)
12 noon – UE vs Ateneo
4 p.m. – La Salle vs NU
The La Salle Green Archers, whose coach has rated them like a torrent movie that is taking too long to download, look to formalize their entry into the Final Four when they play the skidding National University Bulldogs today in the UAAP basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
La Salle is bracing for another difficult encounter set at 4 p.m. after two close wins to start the second round and facing a team that coach Aldin Ayo admitted was the one that gave the talent-laden squad the toughest victory it had this season.
Ayo said after beating the University of the Philippines Maroons, 78-72, last Saturday that the team that will eye to stretch its unbeaten run to 10 games remains far from what he has envisioned since the start.
“We’ll still continue improving the team. Sa ngayon, masasabi ko na because of that (UP) game, nasa 77 percent kami in terms of kung panu mo irarank yung team,” Ayo said.
Ayo rated La Salle as a 50-percent team following its close win over Far Eastern University in the season opener, then gave a 75-percent mark prior to the end of the first round.
He will be looking at guys like Ben Mbala, Jeron Teng and Kib Montalbo, among others, to up the ante as La Salle faces NU for the first time since rallying from an 11-point third quarter deficit to score an 85-76 victory last month.
NU, however, has struggled since that defeat. The Bulldogs have lost their last three games to fall in a tie for fourth with the idle Adamson Falcons at 4-5.
Their recent setback proved to be frustrating, allowing the lowly University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers to snap their five-game losing skid with a 73-69 triumph last Saturday.
Bulldogs coach Eric Altamirano couldn’t hide his disappointment afterwards and has called today’s match as a “test of character”.
“The important thing for us is to play with a sense of urgency at this point of the season. I hope the boys will respond positively dun sa nangyari (against UST), and hopefully we can turn the season to our advantage,” Altamirano said.
The La Salle-NU clash is expected to overshadow the 12 noon match between Ateneo and University of the East.