(Smart Araneta )
2 p.m. – La Salle vs UE
4 p.m. – UP vs NU
Whether the unbeaten La Salle Green Archers would again experiment with their talent-laden roster will be known today as they face the University of the East Red Warriors in the UAAP basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Green Archers are favored to clinch their 12th win in their 2 p.m. contest with the last place Red Warriors and move two games shy of securing a double-round elimination sweep and an outright berth to the best-of-three finals.
The only question now is if La Salle still has tricks up the sleeve after using Sunday’s 99-56 rout of University of Santo Tomas as a way to insert a variety of players from superstars Ben Mbala and Jeron Teng right down to the seldom-used player.
One noticeable move made by coach Aldin Ayo was having five players with African or African-American descent on the same floor.
During one point of the fourth quarter, Ayo brought in Mbala, Fil-Americans Abu Tratter, Julian Sargent and Jason Perkins, and homegrown Mark Dyke that drew mixed reaction from those who witnessed the game.
Tratter later pointed out that the late moves is an indication of La Salle’s capability of being flexible.
“It was definitely a strategic move that shows that we have that option,” said Tratter. “For coach to do that, he’s not only showing what he has, but it also shows the versatility of the team.”
UE is in last place at 2-8 and will need a gigantic upset in order to keep its slim Final Four hopes alive.
Hoping to keep pace in the Final Four race is National University is aiming to a snap a five-game skid against University of the Philippines in the 4 p.m. game.
Bulldogs coach Eric Altamirano hopes to finally see his team to come out victorious against the school which he led to the UAAP title 30 years and one day ago.
On that memorable day, Altamirano scored 27 points and claim Most Valuable Player honors in beating the UE Red Warriors, 98-89, at the Ultra.
But Altamirano and the rest of his NU cagers believe that UP is a tough customer, especially after its close 63-60 loss to Far Eastern University last Saturday.
The Maroons are tied for sixth with the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers at 3-8, still with the outside chance of making the Final Four.