UAAP: A lot at stake as Ateneo guns for top spot in final day of elims

Ateneo Blue Eagles UAAP Season 85

Ateneo Blue Eagles. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/

MANILA, Philippines—Ateneo shoots for the top seeding as Adamson tries to avoid a playoff for No. 4 when they clash on Wednesday in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The final elimination game is set at 4 p.m., where the Final Four pairings and the last semis ticket are on the line.

The back-against-the-wall La Salle, which holds a 6-7 record after a tough 80-72 loss to the also-ran University of the East in overtime on Saturday, needs to win its final assignment against skidding University of Santo Tomas at 2 p.m. and hopes for a losing result from Adamson to force a playoff for the last Final Four berth.

These last two games were supposed to kick off the second round last October 29 but got postponed by Typhoon Paeng and it turned out to be a double-header with heavy implications in the Final Four picture.

Ateneo, coming off a 75-67 victory over University of the Philippines in their grudge match, has won five consecutive games for a 10-3 card with a twice-to-beat incentive. The defending champions finished the eliminations with an 11-3 record, while National University is locked in the third seed with a 9-5 record, facing either Ateneo of UP in the Final Four.

With a chance to overtake the Fighting Maroons for the top seed, Blue Eagles coach Tab Baldwin has no plans of letting up against the Falcons, who have a 7-6 record riding a three-game win streak with Jerom Lastimosa providing the spark despite a right foot injury.

“There’s only one way to play the game of basketball. Play to win,” said Baldwin.

Adamson coach Nash Racela hopes his wards will give their all as they try to finish with an 8-6 record to nail a first Final Four appearance since 2018.

“We’ll give our best, just like every game. We just hope that our best is really our best because sometimes they look like they’re giving their best but they commit a lot of mistakes. So hopefully, when we play November 30, yeah, we really bring our absolute best,” said Racela.

An Adamson loss to Ateneo coupled with a La Salle win over UST in the first game would pit both teams against each other in a playoff for the No. 4 spot.