Ateneo, La Salle eye Final 4 slots
AFTER a miraculous escape from a cellar-dweller, Ateneo hopes to come out in full control this time when it shoots for a Final Four berth versus another eliminated squad in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament today.
The Blue Eagles, who barely survived the University of the Philippines Maroons last Wednesday, aim to strengthen their hold of second spot with a 10th victory against the winless Adamson Falcons at 2 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena.
“What’s important is our mindset,” said Ateneo coach Bo Perasol. “We have to understand that we draw our offense from only a few, unlike other teams who have big men. Maybe we also lost our timing [against UP]. We have to be better than this.”
La Salle, similarly unsatisfied with its recent wins, tries to secure at least a playoff for a Final Four slot with a ninth win against struggling University of Santo Tomas at 4 p.m.
“What’s important is we play better than how we played in the last few games,” said coach Juno Sauler as the Green Archers take on the Tigers (5-6), who has been playing minus ace gunner Kevin Ferrer (fractured hand).
Idle Far Eastern University (10-2) has already claimed the first semifinal seat, leaving five teams to dispute the last three slots.
“Even without Ferrer, they (Tigers) were playing with a lot of urgency and fight,” said Sauler.
“I’m sure whatever the record is, they won’t back down and still play very strong. With or without their main guys, they will come out. So we have to be ready whatever fight they put up against us.”
The Tigers, the runner-up in the last two seasons, must win to stay in contention. Otherwise, a loss and a win by the fourth-running National University (7-4) tomorrow will end their Final Four hopes.
“We have to play with heart and pride,” said UST coach Bong dela Cruz. “We just have to keep on fighting.”
The Eagles also expect to face a big challenge from the Falcons, who gave the Tamaraws a scare last Wednesday before the top seed staged a huge run in the closing minutes for a 90-73 decision.
“I hope that we can improve in time for our game against Adamson. We have to be better than what we were against UP,” Perasol said, whose Eagles nipped the Maroons, 70-69, when UP guard Mike Reyes missed two free throws with eight tenths of a second left.