A final shot
“I just like to remind the scalpers that I have a new measure, the anti-scalping [law] and they cannot [sell overpriced tickets],” said Pumaren.
The joke’s timing was perfect.
A day before the knockout match between the No. 2 Falcons and the No. 3 Maroons, tickets have been all snapped up, guaranteeing a standing room-only Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, when both schools battle for the last men’s basketball championship berth.
The prize is hardly appetizing—the winner basically tries to avoid being fodder for Ateneo’s title defense.
But the glamour of being back in the finals is tantalizing enough for both programs and their faithful throng.
“Both teams are gunning for history. Us making the finals, same thing with UP. It’s gonna be a fun game. It’s gonna be a classic game,” said Pumaren of the game that tips off at 3:30 p.m.
The Maroons forged the knockout match with a 73-71 victory last Saturday. Now, Bo Perasol and his wards want to push this historic Final Four appearance into a bigger stage.
“If the heads of my players are going to be our gauge, I think what I saw in them is that they refuse to lose,” said Perasol. “For me, in the end, it’s not just about the winning and the losing. It’s how we played through that up and down game.”
“We just have to do it again.”
Past history will mostly be thrown out of the window now as both teams gut it out one last time. Nobody remembers Adamson forward Sean Manganti as the Maroons’ perennial tormentor anymore.
Bright Akhuetie’s game-winning stab off a brilliant off-timeout play may still linger, but it hardly means anything.
It’s the lessons that remain.
“Down the stretch, we just made mental mistakes—mistakes we shouldn’t be making at this stage,” said Pumaren. “But you know, we can live with that. We’re in this situation that I guess… that’s why it’s an advantage in our part working for this position in the standing: the twice-to-beat advantage.”