LA SALLE looks to take advantage of a National University loss in the chase for a Final Four spot when the Green Archers take on University of the Philippines on Thursday in the UAAP seniors basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Green Archers got a reprieve despite a loss to Ateneo, 77-67, last Saturday when the Bulldogs lost a controversial game to Far Eastern University on a last gasp layup by RR Garcia last Sunday. That allowed the Taft-based cagers to take solo fourth with a 6-4 win-loss record.
But La Salle coach Gee Abanilla is not dropping his guard going into their 4 p.m. match-up against the Fighting Maroons with the fourth spot in the Final Four very much up for grabs as NU (6-5) is only a half-game back.
“A lot of things can happen so this is the time that we have to be focused towards the end of the second round. A mistake can be very costly,” said Abanilla.
The Maroons lost a heartbreaker when Chris Javier’s buzzer-beating three-pointer sent University of the East to a 79-76 win over the Diliman cagers.
Meanwhile, Ateneo takes on University of the East in the first game of the doubleheader at 2 p.m.
The Blue Eagles, heavy favorites for their match-up against the Red Warriors, are alone on top with a 9-1 record thanks to a balanced lineup that can count on any player at any given time.
Ryan Buenafe took over against La Salle scoring a career-high 24 points in their eighth straight victory of the season.
“We don’t have to rely on one player to carry us every game,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black. “If you look at our game, you can never really tell who will step up in a particular game.
“It takes a lot of sacrifice for the players to really put their egos aside and go with the flow,” Black added.
The Blue Eagles begin their stretch of playing against also-ran teams with Adamson (2-9) also on their schedule on Sunday.
The morale-boosting win over the Maroons was only the second in 10 games for the Warriors.