De La Salle University guns for a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four while National University fights for dear life when the two teams clash today in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 80 men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Green Archers and the Bulldogs battle in the main game at 4 p.m.
Already assured of a semifinals spot with a 10-2 win-loss card, second-running La Salle seeks to grab the last incentive heading into the playoffs.
The defending champion is coming off a 94-59 domination of the winless University of Sto. Tomas (UST) last October 29, stretching the Taft-based team’s winning streak to five.
But reigning Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala, who finished with 17 points on top of nine rebounds and three blocks in 19 minutes of play in the last outing, still sees rooms for improvement in the Archers’ game.
“The things we have to improve on are the way we approach games and the way we start them. We have to be able to get into a game with the right mindset,” said the Cameroonian big man.
National U, on the other hand, aims to keep its playoff hopes alive as it tries to bounce back from a 77-90 beatdown to Adamson University.
With a 4-7 slate, the Bulldogs are in dire need of winning their remaining games to stay in the tight race to the Final Four.
Rookie coach Jamike Jarin and his Sampaloc-based cagers, however, have to overcome first the Aldin Ayo-mentored Archers, who escaped with a 115-109 victory in their first round encounter.
Meanwhile, leading Ateneo De Manila University (11-0) eyes to move closer to a sweep of the double-round eliminations when it takes on the tough-luck UST (0-12) in the game day opener at 2 p.m.
The Blue Eagles, who copped the first twice-to-beat edge, are just three wins away from the rare sweep, which will send them straight to the best-of-three finals.
But head coach Tab Baldwin wants his squad from Katipunan to remain focused on improving its performance on a game-to-game basis.
“I don’t care if we are one win away or 500 wins away from the sweep. The only game that matters is UST,” said Baldwin.
“What’s important for us is the quality of our performance. We think that if we perform well, the result will take care of itself,” added the former national head coach.