UP, LA SALLE EYE UAAP FINALS
THE University of the Philippines and La Salle are set to leverage their twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four as they face lower-ranked opponents in Saturday's UAAP men's basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
11 a.m. – UP vs UST (Women Final Four)
2 p.m. – UP vs Ateneo (Men Final Four)
6 p.m. – DLSU vs NU (Men Final Four)
THE University of the Philippines and La Salle are set to leverage their twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four as they face lower-ranked opponents in Saturday’s UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The top-ranked Fighting Maroons will square off against defending champion Ateneo, currently in an unfamiliar position as the No. 4 squad, in another chapter of the “Battle of Katipunan” at 2 p.m.
On the other hand, the second-ranked Green Archers, on an impressive eight-game winning streak, will take on the No. 3 National University in the other Final Four matchup.
UP, boasting a league-best 12-2 record aims for its third consecutive Finals appearance and the fourth in the last five seasons.
La Salle, finishing with an 11-3 card highlighted by a second-round sweep, seeks to reach the championship stage for the first time since 2017.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs stumbled in the late stages of the eliminations, settling for third place at 10-4.
The Blue Eagles had a roller-coaster elimination round, concluding with an even 7-7 card. They secured their Final Four spot by defeating Adamson in a playoff last Wednesday, extending their streak to nine seasons.
Coach Goldwin Monteverde’s Fighting Maroons are on the verge of reclaiming the throne they lost in Season 85 late last year, continuing their journey with determination.
“I think sa start pa lang ng season, alam natin lahat ng teams very competitive,” said Monteverde, who steered UP in ending a 36-year title drought in Season 84.
“Getting here at this spot is just part of it pero alam naman natin na di pa tapos. Whatever we worked hard for, we just have to follow through on it. We just have to wait kung sino makakalaban namin and prepare for them.
“It’s just a result of yung hard work namin. Lahat naman nito, di naman ito nakaplano. Like I said, whatever comes through, we have to prepare just to fight over every challenge. Kung saan tayo nakarating ngayon, at least we’re thankful but it’s not yet done,” he added.
Jared Brown, who shone in the Blue Eagles’ 70-48 victory over the Falcons, remains upbeat in their matchup with the Fighting Maroons.
“We have momentum coming into Saturday, all we have to do is follow what our coaches want to do and execute it as well as we can,” Brown said.
The Green Archers’ quest to end a seven-year title drought was boosted by their impressive elimination campaign under new coach Topex Robinson.
But for Mike Phillips, La Salle’s journey has just begun with its 72-69 conquest of fabled rival Ateneo.
“Malayo na, pero malayo pa,” said the 6-foot-8 Phillips. “Hopefully, we can use this momentum going into the Final Four.”
Victories by the Blue Eagles and the Bulldogs will send the Final Four to a decider on Wednesday.