DE LA Salle tries to extend its winning run and eyes a share of second place when it goes up against reeling University of the East on Wednesday in the UAAP Season 76 seniors basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Green Archers, winner of four straight outings, face the Red Warriors at 4 p.m.
The winning streak has allowed the Green Archers to stay very much in contention for one of the top two slots and the twice-to-beat incentive that goes with it in the Final Four.
Following its emotional 66-64 victory over archrival Ateneo on Sunday, La Salle improved to 7-4 overall, with another victory against the undermanned Red Warriors tying them with idle Far Eastern University Tamaraws at 8-4 for second place.
But coach Juno Sauler said the Archers are not looking at clinching a top two spot, but are more concentrated on improving each game.
“We are not looking at the top two,” said the soft-spoken Sauler. “We just want to do a good job in our next games. If we win, then we made it. If not, that’s how we go.”
What concerns Sauler the most is how other teams can still break through despite La Salle’s winning record as anything remains possible with Ateneo and University of Santo Tomas stalking just behind with identical 6-5 records and UE at 5-5 still within range.
“With the standings of all the other teams, it’s a close fight. I think six teams are still in it. So especially going into the last three games, every game is important,” said the La Salle mentor.
A depleted UE side is looking for that all-important win to break its two-game slide. But it will have to do without center Charles Mammie for the second consecutive time, and Ralf Olivares, recently sanctioned with a two-game suspension by UAAP commissioner Chito Loyzaga for unsportsmanlike fouls.
Warriors coach Boycie Zamar remains hopeful about their chances against La Salle despite their 73-81 loss to National University on Saturday.
“Given na ‘yung walang player, pero ‘yung mga small things like rebounds, free throws, turnovers, ‘yun ang hindi na-convert,” said Zamar.
In the first game, National University aims to stretch its winning streak to six against winless University of the Philippines at 2 p.m.
The Bulldogs are looking to distance the gap between them and the second-running Tamaraws with a win over the lowly Maroons, winless in 10 games.
“We don’t need to overlook any team. We have to value every game. There has to be a sense of urgency in our last games to reach our target,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano.