THE resumption of the games in the UAAP Season 79 seniors basketball tournament over the weekend provided several twists and turns in what has now became a heated Final Four race.
La Salle's run at an automatic finals berth came to an end last Saturday when it bowed to archrival Ateneo, 71-83, setting the stage for a Final Four which would've been discarded had the Green Archers completed a sweep of the two-round eliminations.
Another streaking team in Far Eastern University also saw its seven-game win run stopped as it lost to Adamson in a nailbiter, 61-59, last Sunday.
To add more drama, National University and University of the Philippines also won, bringing renewed hope for their own Final Four bids heading into their final playing dates of the regular season.
SPIN.ph takes a look at the possible scenarios for the six remaining teams who are still in the title hunt.
La Salle (12-1)
Remaining game: FEU (November 12)
Despite the loss to Ateneo, the Green Archers have already secured the number one seed in the Final Four regardless of the result of their final match against the Tamaraws. Head coach Aldin Ayo's wards, however, are surely intent on bouncing back from the upset loss to the Blue Eagles and enter the Final Four on a winning note.
Remaining games: Ateneo (November 9), DLSU (November 12), UE (November 16)
The Tamaraws may be in second place but that doesn't mean they are assured of the twice-to-beat advantage just yet. In fact, due to its defeat against Adamson on Saturday, FEU could still fall to as low as fourth place if the Tamaraws lose more ground in their remaining three games. FEU is only one win ahead of Ateneo heading into their match-up on Wednesday, and will take on La Salle on the next playing date on Saturday in a tough end to their elimination round schedule. Even winning two of the three games might not be enough as they could still fall to a playoff for the number two spot.
Remaining games: FEU (November 9), UST (November 12), Adamson (November 16)
A win against FEU on Wednesday will be a huge boost to Ateneo’s chances of securing the No. 2 spot in the first year of head coach Tab Baldwin. But if the Blue Eagles are not careful, they can still fall to fourth place, making that final game against Adamson on November 16 a crucial one for the Katipunan-based squad.
Remaining games: UST (November 9), NU (November 13), Ateneo (November 16)
Amazingly, the Falcons can still land at No. 2 spot if they sweep their remaining games, but only if the Tamaraws end up winless in their final matches. But the Falcons should not get ahead of themselves as three successive losses in the final stretch could land them in a possible three-way playoff for the No. 4 spot with UP and NU. Still, winning just one out of the three remaining games will seal their place in the Final Four for the first time since 2011, and in just the rookie year of UAAP champion coach Franz Pumaren with the Falcons.
Remaining game: Adamson (November 13)
The Bulldogs lost six in a row in one stretch, snapping the skid with a win over University of the East, 64-52, on Saturday that kept their hopes alive. Their fate, however, is no longer in their hands even with a victory over Adamson. The Falcons must also lose their final two games for the Bulldogs to gain a playoff for the last Final Four berth.
Remaining game: UE (November 13)
The Fighting Maroons remained in Final Four contention, thanks to their win over the Growling Tigers, 74-69, last Sunday. But like the Bulldogs, their fate now hinges on Adamson losing all three of its remaining games for the Maroons to have a chance. Despite the tall odds, their run this season under rookie Maroons coach Bo Perasol is one of the best times for UP basketball that has not tasted a playoff game in 19 years.