Maroons, Archers look to gain ‘twice-to-beat’ edge for UAAP crown | Inquirer Sports

Maroons, Archers look to gain ‘twice-to-beat’ edge for UAAP crown

/ 05:05 AM November 29, 2023

In a short series such as the UAAP Finals, Maroons, Archers set out to win Game 1and gain ‘twice-to-beat’ edge for crown

Kevin Quiambao of La Salle (left) looks to polish off an MVP-like season with a crown, while CJ Cansino seeks a second championship with the Maroons. —PHOTOS BY AUGUST DELA CRUZ.

In a championship series that can be considered a sprint race more than anything else, there will be no doubt that University of the Philippines (UP) and La Salle will be looking to draw first blood whatever way possible.

“There’s definitely an advantage in winning Game 1,” La Salle coach Topex Robinson told the Inquirer after preparing his Green Archers long and hard on Tuesday afternoon. “Winning the first game makes you have a twice-to-beat edge to win (the championship). So, yeah, this is big.”


The Fighting Maroons will be coming into the series-opener with an advantage in championship experience, having made it here for the third straight season and winning it all two seasons ago.


“I think we have prepared the players well,” Robinson said as the Archers play in their first Finals game in six years at 6 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Wednesday. “But this is uncharted territory for us and they (Maroons) have been here the past three seasons already.

“Our preparations have been OK, but when you get to the court, it will be a completely different atmosphere,” he went on. “When you take the floor, you will be reminded that you are playing in the Finals. And that’s big.”

UP coaching staff has not shown much excitement—or at least it’s trying to—after entering the best-of-three title series yet again, saying that the Maroons have just been rewarded for all their hard work from the time they started camp in the middle of January.

Some momentum

“We didn’t plan for this,” coach Goldwin Monteverde said. “Like I said, whatever comes through, we have to prepare just to fight over every challenge.”

The Maroons have a five-game winning streak going and were responsible for inflicting the last loss suffered by the Archers, 67-64, at the end of the first round.

But after having swept the second round and dismantling National University with clinical precision in the Final Four, Robinson still refuses to acknowledge that they will have some form of momentum heading into Game 1.


“That’s behind us now,” Robinson said of what is a nine-game winning streak. “What we need to do is adjust to the [atmosphere]of the Finals. The earlier we can adapt, the better it is for us.”

Kevin Quiambao, the leading Most Valuable Player (MVP) candidate, and the graduating Evan Nelle will be bannering La Salle’s charge, while the Maroons will lean heavily on Malick Diouf for their inside game and defensive schemes and skipper CJ Cansino.

“This is my last playing year, this is very special for me and I need to finish with something good,” Diouf had said after a 57-46 Final Four victory that dethroned Ateneo last Saturday.

The starting point guard matchup between Nelle and JD Cagulangan will provide for a most interesting sidelight, since the two have been battling it out since their high school days and Nelle down to his last shot at earning a UAAP crown.

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“I haven’t played against [Cagulangan] this whole season so it’s gonna be a tough matchup. When I play him, we try to outsmart each other,” Nelle said.


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