(Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. – FEU vs UE
4 p.m. – Ateneo vs Adamson
Ateneo and Adamson, the hottest teams of the second round, meet with Final Four implications today as the elimination round of the UAAP basketball tournament comes to a conclusion today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Their match is set at 4 p.m. with the Blue Eagles needing a win to clinch the No. 2 seed and a twice-to-beat advantage in the semis and the Falcons hoping to force a playoff for the aforementioned spot with a victory.
The defending champion Far Eastern University Tamaraws are still in the running for the semis bonus, but their destiny is no longer in their hands anymore even if they end up beating the lowly University of the East Red Warriors in the 2 p.m. opener coupled with a Falcons triumph.
Ateneo holds second place at 9-4 while FEU and Adamson are tied for third at 8-5 entering today’s doubleheader that was rescheduled twice because of Typhoon Karen and the All Saints Day break.
The Blue Eagles will place second with a victory, while the Falcons is assured of a playoff if they pull off a repeat of their 62-61 win in the first round.
But should FEU beat UE and Adamson prevails by 31 over Ateneo, then Adamson and FEU play in a playoff for the No. 2 seed, thus dropping Ateneo to fourth a date with top seed and twice-to-beat La Salle.
That is why the coaches of Ateneo, which won five in a row, and Adamson, on a four-game winning run, are treating their duel as if the Final Four had started today.
“It’s going to be a dogfight, I just hope we play our best because right now I’m happy with the way they’re playing but totally not satisfied,” said Adamson mentor Franz Pumaren. “Ateneo has this new aura and they’re a very confident team right now.”
“I don’t think we are on the standard or stature as La Salle who probably with the talent that they have can plan for certain games,” shared Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin. “If we drop our guard, we can put ourselves in a pressure that we don’t want to be put under.”
While Ateneo and Adamson are peaking at the right time, FEU is groping for form after losing its last three games.
Their latest defeat came last Saturday when they lost a pair of eight-point leads in the 73-69 setback to the Green Archers. That is why Tams tactician Nash Racela would like to see his squad enter the Final Four with a win, even if they don’t have the twice-to-beat advantage.
“If (the twice-to-beat advantage) comes, it comes. But from the looks of it parang hindi,” said Racela. “Importante is that we’re in the Final Four, and based on the way we played against La Salle, I know we can compete and beat the other team even if we are at a twice-to-beat disadvantage.”