De La Salle University and Arellano University booked a championship showdown after ousting separate foes in the FilOil Flying V Pre-season Premier Cup semifinals on Friday at The Arena in San Juan City.
La Salle secured its berth to the finals at the expense of archrival Ateneo de Manila University, 92-77.
Thomas Torres led La Salle in the absence of fellow veteran Jeron Teng, who has injured his ankle in their previous outing.
Torres posted 17 points including two crucial three-pointers in the match, in addition to three assists, two steals and two rebounds.
The Green Archers were hot off the gates launching attacks that resulted in a 27-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Ateneo retaliated in the second period to reduce the deficit but the fires of their offense were snuffed by a trey by Torres with just four seconds left on the clock to extend La Salle’s lead, 48-40.
La Salle continued the raids on the territory of Ateneo in the second half to establish a comfortable 66-56 edge going into the fourth quarter.
La Salle intensified its offensive in the remaining minutes of the ball game, with forward Abu Tratter leading the charge en route to winning their ninth straight victory in the league.
Five other players scored double figures for La Salle with rookie big man Ben Mbala nailing 16 points and 17 rebounds while Tratter, Aljun Melecio, and Andrei Caracut posted 16, 14 and 13 markers each, respectively.
Meanwhile, Arellano stunned National University, 94-85, to claim its first finals appearance in the tournament.
Court general Jiovanni Jalalon lifted the Chiefs with a 34-point output on a 62.5 percent field-goal shooting. He also had six assists and three boards.
Arellano maintained an offensive posture in the opening quarters to erect a 48-39 advantage at halftime.
But the Bulldogs slowly gained momentum in the next frame and placed their team within striking distance, 67-60, with just 10 minutes remaining in the game.
Both squads went head-to-head in the final canto but the Chiefs were able to keep the lead until the end of regulation.
Michael Salado also stepped up for Arellano with 18 points, six assists and four steals while Zach Nichols added 11 markers and six boards.
Alfred Aroga led the Bulldogs with a double-double haul of 24 points and 10 rebounds while teammates Reggie Morido and Niko Abatayo posted 11 and nine points, respectively.
The La Salle-Arellano finals will be played on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the same venue.