UE, NU dispute F-4 spot today
UNIVERSITY of the East looks to stave off elimination yet again when it battles National University today in a playoff for the last semifinal berth in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
“We just have to live one more time to get into the Final Four,” UE coach Derrick Pumaren said of his Warriors, who pulled off one upset after another to tie the Bulldogs at No. 4 on the last day of the elimination round.
“Every game, we’ve been fighting to stay alive,” added Pumaren. “We’ve been doing that for three weeks already. So we just have to keep on fighting.”
The Warriors and the Bulldogs, who finished the eliminations tied at 9-5, collide at 4 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum
The winner of the do-or-die clash will advance versus top-seeded Ateneo, which owns a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four.
Defending champion La Salle and Far Eastern U will clash in the other semifinal, but will first dispute the No. 2 spot—which comes with the other twice-to-beat bonus—in a playoff at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Mall of Asia Arena.
After dropping their last elimination game, the Bulldogs hope to rebound against a hot UE side that won all but one of its assignments in the second round.
But NU coach Eric Altamirano knows the entire team must click, unlike in the Bulldogs’ loss to the Archers last week, 56-68, where big man Alfred Aroga was held to a single-digit ouput.
“For us, it needs to be a collective effort,” said Altamirano. “In all our games, we win if everybody contributes.”
The same is true for the Warriors, who have drawn big numbers from Bong Galanza, Dan Alberto and Paul Varilla in their incredible climb from a 3-4 start.
“All our players have stepped up, that’s why we’re in a playoff,” said Pumaren whose Warriors have learned to rely less on ace guard Roi Sumang. “We need everybody on board.”
The Bulldogs narrowly escaped the Warriors in the first round, 57-55, where Aroga took charge with 18 points and 15 rebounds.
But the Warriors avenged the loss with a convincing 64-55 victory in the second round.