University of Santo Tomas (UST) and Far Eastern University (FEU) will be going all-out when the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 78 men’s basketball tournament best-of-three championship series begins today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Game 1 is set at 3:30 p.m. with the Growling Tigers holding a slight advantage after sweeping the Tamaraws in the elimination round- 72-71 in the first round and 85-76 in the second phase.
“Naka-dalawa kami sa kanila sa eliminations pero eliminations yun. Kailangan naming pagtrabahuhan dahil malakas ang FEU. Kami lalaban lang, yung mga bata talagang palaban. Pinaghandaan namin sila kaya tignan na lang natin ang magiging resulta come Game 1,” said Growling Tigers mentor Bong Dela Cruz
Veterans Kevin Ferrer and Ed Daquioag vowed to bring their A-games along with Cameroonian Karim Abdul, Louie Vigil and Jan-jan Sheriff
The Growling Tigers reached the finals by dethroning National University via 64-55 in the Final Four.
FEU, on the other hand, made it to the finals after ousting Ateneo de Manila University, 76-74, in the other Final Four game.
“Andun yung teamwork kaya kami nakabalik sa finals. I know my players; they spend time to prepare every game. Maturity and character. That’s something we have now,” said FEU head coach Nash Racela, who will be relying on veterans Mac Belo, Roger Pogoy and Mike Tolomia.
Racela also mentioned Raymar Jose, Francis Tamsi, Russel Escoto and Alejandrino Inigo to provide the needed back up.
UST last won in 2006 when they beat Ateneo via a 2-1 series victory. The Blue Eagles actually won in Game 1 (73-72) but the Growling Tigers bounced back and took the Game 2 (87-71) and Game 3 (76-74 OT).
For its part, FEU ruled in the 2005 edition with Arwind Santos leading the Tamaraws to a 2-0 sweep of De La Salle University (75-73 and 73-71).
For starters, FEU is the winningest team in the league with 19 (1938, 1939, 1947, 1950, 1956, 1961, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1991, 1992, 1997, 2003, 2004 and 2005) while UST is the second best with 18 (1940, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1959, 1963, 1964, 1969, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 2006).
It was in 1979 when UST and FEU last met in the finals with the latter winning the one-game championship round, 100-89.
Game today (MOA Arena)
3:30 p.m. UST vs FEU