Far Eastern University (FEU) and University of Santo Tomas (UST) clash head-on in the opening of the stepladder semifinals in Season 82 University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament today at the Araneta Coliseum.
The No. 3 Tamaraws and the No. 4 Growling Tigers square off at 4 p.m., with the winner earning the right to face twice-to-beat No. 2 University of the Philippines in the next round.
FEU achieved its seventh straight semifinal appearance after posting an 8-6 record capped by a pivotal three-game winning streak.
Third-year head coach Olsen Racela wants his Tamaraws to shift their sights on the next target.
“We’re not done yet. Our goal every year is to make it to the Final Four then we move on to the next goal,” said Racela.
But opposing mentor Aldin Ayo and his Tigers have the same thing in mind.
“We’re not gonna stop here because this is a competition. We’re going to strive,” said Ayo.
UST halted a three-year semifinal drought after an 80-74 victory over Adamson University for an 8-6 slate last October 26.
FEU and UST split their elimination round encounters. The Tigers prevailed in the first round, 82-74, but the Tamaraws struck back hard, 72-58, in the second round.
Both teams put up impressive numbers during the 14-game eliminations. UST averaged 79.21 points built on a 37% shooting from the field on top of 49.93 rebounds and 15.93 assists while FEU normed 68.43 markers anchored on a 38% shooting clip to go with 47.07 boards and 14.79 dimes.
Graduating gunner Wendell Comboy, captain Kenneth Tuffin, sophomore playmaker L-Jay Gonzales and Cameroonian center Patrick Tchuente will carry the fight for the Morayta-based squad.
On the other side, veteran guard Renzo Subido, MVP candidate Soulemane Chabi Yo, fleet-footed guard Mark Nonoy and athletic forward Rhenz Abando will take charge of the team from España.