THE UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament’s much-anticipated second round finished on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, giving college basketball fans a weekend to remember.
The Final Four teams, however, will not be set until Wednesday, when the Ateneo Blue Eagles and the Adamson Soaring Falcons meet for the last time in a play-off match.
The Blue Eagles were unable to take care of business on Saturday, falling to their archrival DLSU Green Archers in a dramatic 72-69 game. Meanwhile, the Soaring Falcons defeated the UE Red Warriors 63-61 on the strength of a clutch three-pointer from Matthew Montebon.
With this scenario, both teams are now tied for the final Final Four position with a 7-7 win-loss record. To determine who stays and who departs, a play-off match between the Blue Eagles and the Soaring Falcons is required.
Blue Eagles’ crushing defeat to the Green Archers
The Green Archers won their eight straight game in front of 14,900 people inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum, snapping Ateneo’s three-game winning streak to secure their twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four.
Despite a heartbreaking setback that puts their Final Four journey in jeopardy, Blue Eagles head coach Tab Baldwin praised both teams for putting on an exciting contest for the fans to remember.
“The players from both teams really put on a show. There was tremendous amount of effort out there on the court. La Salle gotta cross the finish line in the end, so congratulations to the team, players, and Topex’ staff. That was a worthy win, I think it was a worthy game for our rivalry,” he said.
“It is bitter for us to lose. We had our chances, but we didn’t make plays down the stretch that we have to in a game like that. We’ll see what happens from here,” he said, referring to the possible cause of their loss to La Salle.
In addition to Topex Robinson, Baldwin regards Nash Racela as a threat in light of how the outstanding tactician prepares for their matchup.
“Nash is another good one. He’s playing the matchup game the whole game. It’s fun, but sometimes you’re playing checkers, and you want to be playing chess, because you’re players doesn’t have the experience, but they’re getting it and we’re learning,” Baldwin adds.
Soaring Falcons win on the final play of the game
Holding on for dear life, Matthew Montebon scored the most important shot of his UAAP season, sparing the Soaring Falcons from a game that could’ve ended their season and allowing them to play one more game against the University of the East Red Warriors.
Montebon had 16 points, seven rebounds, and two assists to go along with four three-pointers, one of which was a desperate 3 from the deep left corner after Jack Cruz-Dumont’s own trey had placed UE ahead, 61-60.
“I like how it ended,” said Nash Racela, the Soaring Falcons’ third-year head coach. “Walang script dun ah. UE really made it tough for us, and some would say really chamba. I won’t deny that. Mukha namang chamba talaga.”
“I think from the very beginning that’s what we emphasized to our players that there’s no freebie in this world. You have to earn everything. You have to take it if you want it,” he continued.
“Today we thank UE for allowing us to do that. Talagang pinahirapan kami. They didn’t give it to us on a silver platter, so talagang pinagtrabahuhan,” concluded the former UAAP champion coach.
The UAAP Final Four
While Ateneo and Adamson compete, the top three teams are already in the semifinals. The three teams that advanced were the UP Fighting Maroons, the DLSU Green Archers, and the NU Bulldogs.
The Fighting Maroons finished the season as the top-seeded team, while the Green Archers, who swept all of their games in the second round, claimed the second slot after the NU Bulldogs lost on Sunday.
The Ateneo Blue Eagles will face the Adamson Soaring Falcons in a play-off match on Wednesday, 2:00 PM, at the Mall of Asia Arena, following the Women’s Basketball Tournament Final Four game.
On Saturday, the Men’s Basketball Final Four will begin. The winner of the Ateneo-Adamson game will face the top-seeded UP, who has a twice-to-beat advantage, at 2:00 PM.
While the DLSU Green Archers have a twice-to-beat advantage, they will try to continue their second round momentum against the tenacious NU Bulldogs at 6:00 PM at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.