THE UAAP takes a break for the Haloween weekend, but the race for to the Final Four has become one scary ride for De La Salle and National University.
At this point, only league leader Far Eastern University and University of Santo Tomas are assured of places in the playoffs. Ateneo is running third but not out of the woods yet while joint sixth placers University of the East and University of the Philippines (both 3-7 win-loss) are still in the Final Four hunt.
But the two teams in the bubble are La Salle and NU, two teams tipped to make the playoffs but not struggling to get there. The two are separated by no more than half a game, with La Salle in fourth place at 5-6 and NU at 5-7 after the Bulldogs' 81-73 win over the Archers over the weekend.
The final stretch of the eliminations will dictate the two teams' fate.
La Salle will have three remaining games beginning with a battle between archrival Ateneo on November 8, followed by a match against UP on November 11, both at the Araneta Coliseum. The Green Archers will still play against FEU in a game postponed due to typhoon ‘Lando,' with the make-up date yet to be announced.
On the other hand, the NU Bulldogs have two games leftagainst UP on November 8 at the Big Dome and against FEU on November 14 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Green Archers certainly do not savor the prospect of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011, but coach Juno Sauler is happy to note that the team's fate is still very much in its hands.
“It doesn’t really matter how NU closes out their games. We just have to take care of business,” he said.
While the Green Archers can guarantee themselves a semifinal berth with a sweep of their three games, the Bulldogs may need results of other games to go their way to get a shot at defending their title in the playoffs.
NU coach Eric Altamirano, however, is unperturbed, saying all the Bulldogs are thinking of is a sweep of their final two games.
“Hindi na namin iniisip ‘yun,” said Altamirano. “Ang iniisip na lang namin ngayon is we want to hurdle all our assignments, then kung saan na lang kami abutin. We will just continue to pray.”