LAST year’s finalists Ateneo and University of Santo Tomas clash anew, this time fighting for dear life as they vie for the last berth in the Final Four of the Season 76 men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Eagles battle the vengeful Tigers in the same venue where they completed a sweep of the best-of-three finals on the way to a fifth successive league championship.
The elimination-round match was postponed last August 21 due to heavy monsoon rains that battered the country. Gametime is at 4 p.m.
The Blue Eagles and the Tigers are coming off defeats that put them in a must-win situation for their final regular season game.
Ateneo bowed to National University, 70-65, allowing the Bulldogs to claim the twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four.
UST was defeated by De La Salle last Saturday, relegating the Tigers to a tie for fourth place with a 7-6 win-loss slate with Ateneo.
The Blue Eagles will be without their head coach as the UAAP board ordered Bo Perasol to serve his one-game suspension given to him following a run-in with a fan during their match against De La Salle last September 1.
“My team will fight for that Final Four slot with or without me at the helm,” Perasol said.
For his part, UST coach Pido Jarencio said he is not giving up on his team especially after seeing the Tigers win three of their last four games.
“Puso ’yung hinahanap ko sa kanila,” Jarencio said. “Basta kami, kahit sabit kami sa No. 4, okay lang kami. Kahit sino ang mag-No. 1 basta kami, makaakyat kami sa Final Four.”
In the first game, also-rans University of the East and University of the Philippines hope to finish their season strong when they collide at 2 p.m.
The Red Warriors go for their sixth win to end their disappointing season on a high note. The Maroons, meanwhile, are trying to avoid a winless season.