Resurgent Red Warriors brace for tough stretch in bid to gain ground in Final Four race
UE coach Derrick Pumaren hopes his team sustains its momentum even with a tough schedule ahead, beginning with a clash against La Salle on Wednesday. Marlo Cueto

AFTER losing six straight games to start UAAP Season 80, University of the East has picked up steam and moved into contention for a Final Four berth with a big win over University of the Philippines on Sunday.

The Red Warriors upped their record to 3-7 with the victory over the Maroons, putting them two games behind fourth placer Far Eastern University (5-5).

UE trails UP and National University who share fifth place with identical 4-6 cards.

Talk about Final Four has eluded the Red Warriors for quite some time now as the last time they were in contention was in Season 77 when they played a playoff game against National University for the fourth-seed in 2014.

UE coach Derrick Pumaren is hoping for the best out of the campaign of the Red Warriors after they won their three games during their last four matches - the lone defeat coming at the hands of Adamson.

"Habang may buhay, may pag-asa," said Pumaren. "At the same time, until there is a fourth team that makes it, then we still have a shot at it."

Ever since Alvin Pasaol scattered 49 points against La Salle, the Red Warriors have collected wins beginning with their first round encounter against University of Santo Tomas. UE have won two more, putting themselves in the race for at least the last semifinal seat.

"Napag-usapan namin ng team, 'yung game namin against UST, for us, it's the start of the season. Forget about what happened in our six losses. The season starts for us nung last game namin sa UST. So far, we are doing well," said Pumaren.

Pumaren, however, admitted there is still a lot of work to do for the Red Warriors, who face a tough schedule in the coming days including La Salle on Wednesday.

"We just have to stay positive on the things that are going on. We just have to play as a team and keep playing as one unit. In our game against Adamson, we did a good job defensively but we were out of sync sa offense. It's like everybody wanted to score. We ran away from what we are doing well nung three games namin."

"It's going to be a tough schedule for us. We have La Salle on Wednesday. We need everybody on board," said Pumaren.

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