(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4 p.m. – FEU vs Ateneo
Ateneo, FEU clash for other finals berth.
Far Eastern University and Ateneo dispute the right to face La Salle in the best-of-three title series when they clash today in the knockout match of the UAAP Final Four at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The defending champion Tamaraws displayed resiliency amid adversity after forcing the 4 p.m. duel with a come-from-behind 62-61 victory over the twice-to-beat Blue Eagles last Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
FEU coach Nash Racela is hoping that the determination his boys displayed over the weekend would once again surface opposite an Ateneo team that is eager to bounce back.
“I think the first step (last Saturday) was realizing that we can keep up and beat Ateneo,” said Racela, who will end his stint as FEU coach with a loss to begin the biggest break of his career as the head man of TNT KaTropa in the PBA.
“The important thing is that we sustain this kind of effort and desire and hopefully give us a chance sa next game,” added Racela, who has been with the Tamaraws since 2013, leading them to last season’s title.
All eyes will be on FEU team captain Raymar Jose, who delivered an inspiring performance with 20 points and 23 rebounds in the victory.
But Jose will need plenty of support like in the last game, particularly from Monbert Arong and Prince Orizu who also made key plays in FEU’s rally from 10 points down with eight minutes remaining in the fourth.
Meanwhile, Ateneo is keen on redeeming itself from blowing its first chance at arranging a dream match with archrival La Salle on Saturday.
Thirdy Ravena, Aaron Black, Isaac Go, Adrian Wong and Raffy Verano will be among the Blue Eagles who will try and finish off the Tamaraws this time.
“I think we just didn’t play with such composure and experience that we think we have developed during the course of the season,” said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin, whose team claimed the twice-to-beat bonus after winning six straight games at the end of the eliminations.
“That (game) got away from us in the fourth quarter and we pay the price, and we will make sure that it won’t happen again,” he added.