By Jerome Lagunzad
2 p.m. – NU vs UP
4 p.m. – Adamson vs FEU
Host Far Eastern University and two other hopefuls make one final push for the remaining Final Four berth today in the resumption of the UAAP basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Tamaraws can earn a trip to the playoffs for the fifth straight year and avoid any playoff complications if they can get back at the No. 3 Adamson Falcons in their 4 p.m. encounter.
“We have to win our final game (in the eliminations),” said FEU’s first-year coach Olsen Racela, simplifying the Tamaraws’ main objective as they also try to avenge a 95-79 loss to the Falcons last Oct. 7.
Meanwhile, National University and University of the Philippines intend to keep themselves in playoff contention as they square off in a virtual do-or-die showdown at 2 p.m.
Tied at fifth to sixth spots with similar 5-8 marks, both the Bulldogs and the Fighting Maroons are eager to close out their respective elimination campaigns on a high note while hoping the Tamaraws will lose anew to the Soaring Falcons to earn another crack at the No. 4 spot via a knockout battle.
“We just control what we have in our hands,” said NU coach Jamike Jarin, whose Bulldogs fought their way back from a 15-point deficit in the final canto and pulled off an 87-84 stunner over the Tamaraws last Wednesday.
“We don’t have any control of the other games. But rest assured we will still give our best no matter what. I’m hoping for a miracle of course. We’re hoping for that.”
The Fighting Maroons, who last reached the Final Four in 1997, are also having the same thoughts too since they are eager to stop a two-game losing skid and return the favor to the Bulldogs who foiled them 77-70 last Oct. 8.
“What’s in our hands right now is to have a victory against NU,” said UP coach Bo Perasol. “It’s not going to help us if we’re going to lose. But then again, we have to find a way to get that energy going.We have to make sure, manalo muna kami.
“But it doesn’t mean if we win, we will have a chance because if FEU wins against Adamson then that’s the problem.
But in the end, we gave ourselves a chance.”
The Soaring Falcons, back in the semis for the second straight year but with a higher-seed this time, are expected to still give it their all against the Tamaraws since they are also raring to give themselves added confidence and momentum going to the playoffs.
“We’re still gonna be in the Final Four mode,” said Adamson coach Franz Pumaren. “Because we’re trying to fare ourselves for the next phase. During this stretch, every game is important, and every game is a learning process for us, a learning experience for us.”