Defending champion Adamson University and University of Santo Tomas (UST) will begin their best-of-three championship showdown today in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 78 softball tournament at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
The game starts at 8:30 a.m.
The Lady Falcons, gunning for a sixth straight title and 15th overall, earned its sixth straight finals appearance after scoring a come-from-behind win over University of the Philippines, 7-6, on Monday.
Adamson will bank on senior ace pitcher Annalie Benjamen while reserve pitcher Rifayca Basa, who delivered Adamson during the crucial moments of the semifinals, serves as backup in case the former fails to deliver.
“Dati dominated namin ang tournament. This time, hindi namin dominante. So for the past five years, alam mo nang Adamson ang mananalo pero ngayon, hindi mo masasabi kung sino magtsa-champion this season,” said Adamson head coach Ana Santiago in an interview with The Manila Times.
“Ngayon, naka-focus kami sa one game at a time. Kaya kung ano ‘yung dapat naming gawin, siya ang ginagawa namin, kung may dapat idagdag, dinadagdag lang namin,” she added.
Santiago said they could win the game if the players will push for a solid offense including hard-hitting plays.
On the other hand, UST bagged a finals berth after trouncing National University, 8-4, in the other semifinals match.
Tigresses head coach Sandy Barredo hopes that his ace pitcher Ann Antolihao would be in form after an erratic pitching during their semifinals game.
Barredo admitted that their opponent is much better than them in the hitting department.
“Mas magaling silang pumalo sa amin. We are just lucky – Timing lang talaga. Kung Man to Man ang labanan, talo mga girl players ko. I can only compare three to four players, compare sa whole team ng Adamson,” he said.
“Naho-hold lang namin dahil alam namin situation ng play nila and we know kung saan ang palo nila kaya nache-check namin,” added Barredo.
UST will try to clinch its second title since winning the 2009-2010 season.
Last week, UST posted an impressive 6-2 win to end Adamson’s historic 73-game winning streak that started in UAAP Season 73.
Game 2 will be on Monday at 8:30 a.m. If needed, Game 3 will be played on March 18.
JEAN RUSSEL V. DAVID