UNIVERSITY of the Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University clash for all the marbles in the finals of UAAP Season 78. Here are five burning questions that will be answered in this series.
Who has momentum after contrasting Final Four results?
The Tamaraws are coming off an emotionally-charged semifinal which Mac Belo capped by hitting a follow-up at the buzzer to lift FEU to a 76-74 victory over Ateneo on Saturday. FEU now faces a UST team that pretty much had an easy time dispatching National University in the other Final Four match-up. It will be interesting to see how both teams will respond after the short turnaround time to the finals.
In battle of young coaches, who will rise to the occasion?
A lot of UST fans questioned the ability of Bong Dela Cruz during his first year with the Tigers following the team's failure to reach the Final Four. But Dela Cruz has proven doubters wrong when the Growling Tigers reached the finals in Season 78. Dela Cruz could have the last laugh if he ends up leading UST to its first title in nine years.
Nash Racela, on the other hand, has had a lot of success as an assistant coach both for Gilas and Talk 'N Text. But he has yet to win a major championship as a full-pledged head coach after the Tamaraws came up short against NU last season. As the #AlDub phenomenon puts it, is it the 'tamang panahon' for Coach Nash?
Other than their Big 3, who will step up for the Growling Tigers?
Kevin Ferrer, Karim Abdul, and Ed Daquioag have been the top players of UST all season long. But statistics show the Tigers are dead last in bench points. During their run this season, the Tigers have their share of players who stepped upike veteran Louie Vigil and rookies Mario Bonleon and Marvin Lee. They need them more than ever in the finals against a deep Tamaraws side.
Can FEU flaunt its depth?
The Tamaraws have been so deep this season they were able to beat a desperate La Salle side with a team of relievers in their final game in the eliminations. It's no surprise they are the league leaders in terms of bench points. It will be interesting to see if Roger Pogoy, Raymar Jose, Achie Inigo, Monbert Arong and Marvis Dennison can sustain their impressive play in the biggest stage of all.
Who wants it more?
This series is too close to call because both teams are blessed with veteran players who want nothing more than to end their college careers with a bang. Ferrer, Abdul, and Daquioag have endured two heartbreaks in the finals while Belo, Tolomia, and Pogoy are eager to atone for last year’s loss to NU in the championship.
We think this series will go down to the intangibles. The team that consistently wins the '50-50 balls,' sustains its defense to the end and gets the lucky bounces will end up lifting the trophy.