UST Growling Tigers, FEU Tamaraws in key UAAP clash
MANILA—University of Santo Tomas hopes to complete the Final Four cast against a Far Eastern University side also vying for a crucial win in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament Thursday.
The Archers, who still have a shot at forging a Final Four playoff, clashes with the eliminated National University in the first game at 1 p.m.
“We’re in control of our destiny,” said UST coach Pido Jarencio. “We don’t want to rely on [the game results of] other teams. We’re confident that we can put up a good fight.”
The Tigers, running fourth with a 7-5 record, only need to win one of their last two elimination games to secure a semifinal berth.
The Tamaraws–although assured of a Final Four seat along with unbeaten Ateneo and Adamson—remain in the hunt for the last twice-to-beat semifinal advantage.
Even if the defending champion Eagles pull off an elimination sweep and head straight to the Finals, the No. 2 team will still hold a twice-to-beat bonus in the step-ladder semifinals.
“The No. 2 spot is still within our reach,” coach Bert Flores said of the third-ranked Tamaraws, who own an 8-4 slate. “We need to work hark, and hopefully, we can grab that chance.”
UST can actually join a three-way tie for second at 9-5 at the end of the eliminations. In this scenario, the quotient will decide who ends up as No. 4 with the two other teams playing off for the No. 2 slot.
The Archers must prevail in their final two games, and at the same time, hope that the Tigers drop their last two to stay in Final Four contention.
“Even though it’s only a slim chance, we’ll go for that chance,” said coach Dindo Pumaren, whose Archers own a fifth-best 5-7 card.
The Archers kept their own semifinal bid alive after rallying from 20-points down and escaping with a 73-72 thriller versus the University of the Philippines last Sunday.
Also forging a come-from-behind win, the Tigers rose from a double-digit deficit to stun the Falcons, 75-58, and streak to their third straight victory with Jeric Teng, Karim Abdul and Jeric Fortuna at the helm.
As the eliminations head into the homestretch, the MVP race also tightened among top contenders Greg Slaughter of Ateneo (13.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks), NU’s Ray Parks (19.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg), UST’s Karim Abdul (11.4 ppg, 11.4 rpg), Ateneo’s Kiefer Ravena (13.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.2 apg) and Adamson’s Alex Nuyles (14.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.4 apg).
The player with the highest statistical points at the end of the eliminations will capture the league’s top individual plum.