Eagles shoot for No. 1 as Archers eye survival
La Salle has the easy assignment on the floor in a survival match it is expected to hurdle with ease.
The tough part begins after that.
The Green Archers slug it out with also-ran University of Santo Tomas before La Salle hopes that bitter rival Ateneo plays according to form and beats Adamson in a later game that pulls the curtains down on the UAAP men’s basketball championship’s elimination round at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Running fifth with a 6-7 record, the Archers need no less than a win in the 2 p.m. contest against the toothless Tigers before they root for the Blue Eagles to win and shove the Soaring Falcons down into a tie with Adamson that would result in a playoff for the last Final Four slot.
The winners of their last three outings, the Falcons clinching the last and final spot in the semifinals remains encouraging since a loss in the bird fight with the Eagles still keeps them in the running.
The Adamson-Ateneo tussle will be no-bearing for the Falcons should the Archers suffer an upset.
“One more game. Actually, a lot of people are counting us out already because they want La Salle to make it into the Final Four. I know what people think and we want to counter that. That’s actually our goal,’’ said Adamson coach Nash Racela.
“Expectations and reality are always different, so we’ll try our best,’’ added Racela after the Falcons squeaked past the third-seeded National University Bulldogs (9-5) last weekend. “Every game for us is a do-or-die game, that’s the mentality that we have going into every game to stay alive,’’ said Racela.
Ateneo will not take this match lightly, even if it could mean a titanic Final Four clash with the Green Archers.
A loss will keep the Eagles at No. 2 and a win-once advantage against dangerous National University (NU). A win will keep La Salle alive and give Ateneo No. 1, which could set up a box-office clash with the Archers later on.
“Adamson on Wednesday is a huge affair, it allows us to finish at the top of the table and I don’t think many people expected that in the beginning or in the middle of the season,’’ said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.
The Falcons possess the key personnel to counter the Blue Eagles with ever-dependable point guard Jerom Lastimosa expected to masterfully lead them.
“We’ve been playing great the past four games, one more push so we can make it to the Final Four,’’ said Lastimosa, who hit the game-sealing three with 5.5 seconds remaining that put the Bulldogs on a leash and doomed NU to No. 3.