IN A riveting face-off at the iconic Smart Araneta Coliseum, the University of the Philippines and La Salle are set to deliver a nail-biting conclusion to the UAAP men's basketball tournament.

6 December 2023

Games Wednesday:

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
8 a.m. – UPIS vs FEU-D (Boys)
10 a.m. – DLSZ vs UST (Boys)
12 noon – NU vs UST (Women Finals)
6 p.m. – UP vs DLSU (Men Finals)

IN A riveting face-off at the iconic Smart Araneta Coliseum, the University of the Philippines and La Salle are set to deliver a nail-biting conclusion to the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.

The previous games witnessed intense action, with the Fighting Maroons securing a historic 97-67 victory in the opener, only to face a resolute Green Archers who leveled the series with an 82-60 rout.

La Salle, fueled by their largest championship series win since 1998, is eager to replicate their dominance, while UP is determined to clinch the title after a 36-year hiatus.

The Finals decider, scheduled for 6 p.m., promises a packed arena at the Big Dome, buzzing with anticipation.

In a parallel showdown, the National University and the University of Santo Tomas vie for the women’s crown at 12 noon. UP, standing at 1-1 in Game 3 seeks redemption after losing their reign to Ateneo last December.

Coach Goldwin Monteverde is optimistic, putting aside the setback in Game 2, and looks forward to seizing a second chance at championship glory.

“Well, it is what it is kung ano nangyari today (Sunday). We’re not gonna make any reasons kung ano turnout ng game today, rather we’re gonna look inside us, kung ano dapat namin ginawa. Ang importante dito may Game 3 pa so nandoon pa yung chance namin. Yun lang, learn from it lang,” said Monteverde.

“It will count how to face challenges not alone, but to face challenges working together, helping each other out,” he added.

The Fighting Maroons started strong, racing to a 12-2 lead before the Green Archers used a strong second quarter to take control and never looked back.

This will be La Salle’s ninth Game 3 in the Final Four era – the most by any team in the league. The Green Archers are 3-5 all-time, as their most recent Finals decider appearance ended in a loss to the Blue Eagles, 86-88, in 2017.

Gunning for his first collegiate coaching title, La Salle mentor Topex Robinson is bracing for what UP will throw at them in the finale.

“We know that it’s gonna be hard. Winning a championship is gonna be hard. Playing against the top college team in the country right now is gonna be hard. But sa amin, at the moment we just keep on enjoying that game, the game that we love, the game that has been good to us, and not shy away from the responsibility of the result of the ball game,” said Robinson.

The Green Archers hope to cash in that they are the only unbeaten team in Araneta Coliseum this season, winning all their six games. Game 3 is scheduled on December 6 at Araneta Coliseum.

The Fighting Maroons hope to get aggressive on the glass. Newly-minted season MVP Kevin Quiambao and Mike Phillips combined for 26 of La Salle’s 58 rebounds, 12 more than UP.

Even graduating guard Evan Nelle also helped in rebounding to offset his poor four-point output by hauling down 12 boards.

“We ride on the saying that ‘no rebounds, no rings,'” said Robinson.

Camille Clarin, the Lady Bulldogs captain who dropped 18 points in the series-tying victory, is looking forward to the do-or-die match, where if the first two games were a gauge it will go down the wire.

“Playing in Game 3 is unfamiliar territory for us but fighting for a championship is not,” said Clarin.

“We’re just excited for the opportunity that we live to fight another day. We’re not gonna let it slip away from us and we’re gonna do everything we can to make sure we get that championship and it starts tomorrow,” she added.

Coach Haydee Ong, meanwhile, will use their Final Four duel with the Fighting Maroons as a motivation for the Tigresses to annex their first title since 2006.

“I told the players in the locker room that we’ve been here already,” Ong said.

“It’s the same scenario as against UP. This Wednesday is a do-or-die game, so let’s see what will happen,” she added.