by Waylon Galvez
Games Today (Ynares Sports Center, Antipolo City)
2 p.m. – La Salle vs UST
4 p.m. – NU vs UP
Just like in the first round, De La Salle coach Louie Gonzales said that they are treating their game against former coach Aldin Ayo and University of Santo Tomas like a regular contest since their focus is to advance to the next round of the UAAP men’s basketball.
“It’s still the same, just a regular game,” said Gonzales yesterday. “We are not looking at anything, just focus on UST and on our goal to make it to the next round of the tournament.”
But of course, La Salle is aching to beat Ayo once again in the hope of boosting its semis bids as the league plays today at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City for the first time.
Match is at 2 p.m. with La Salle and UST, currently at No. 3 and 4, determined to improve their 6-4 and 5-5 records, respectively
La Salle defeated UST, 99-72, last Oct. 3, the first meeting between the two teams since Ayo left DLSU to coach UST, ending a two-year tenure with the Taft based team which he led to a title in 2016.
Equally important is the 4 p.m. tussle between University of the Philippines and National University – two teams still in contention for a semifinal spot.
With their roller-coaster performance, the Maroons could only produce five wins in 11 games while NU, despite a 3-7 card, remains confident of gaining a playoff.
That will happen only if the Bulldogs emerge victorious today and their next final three games.
At the moment, only defending champion Ateneo – with a league best 9-2 card – is assured of a Final Four berth, while Adamson – at second place with an 8-2 record – is one win away from advancing to the next round.
With the way things are going, the ‘magic winning number’ for La Salle, according to Gonzales, is to reach eight wins for them to earn a third straight trip to the semifinal stage of the tournament.
Gonzales said they need to raise their level of game a notch higher if they want to go for a back-to-back against Ayo.
“UST has been playing well, and we know it’s going to be a close match and we’re prepared for that,” said Gonzales, whose team took a rest only Sunday and Monday after beating FEU, 65-57, a week back.
UST is fully motivated to face La Salle after posting an inspiring 79-68 win over also-ran University of the East last Sunday.