No. 4 Tamaraws look to complete upset of top-seeded Eagles in UAAP semis decider
The Tamaraws look to reach the title series in coach Olsen Racela's first season in charge, while Tab Baldwin and the Eagles eye a return trip to the finals. Jerome Ascano

FAR Eastern University looks to complete an upset over top seed Ateneo when the Tamaraws and Blue Eagles clash in the rubber match in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 80 basketball tournament on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

At stake in the 4 p.m. clash is the right to face reigning champion La Salle in a best-of-three title series that will start on Saturday.

FEU, the semis fourth seed, is coming off a morale-boosting 80-67 win over Ateneo, which has lost its second consecutive game after winning the first 13 matches.

FEU coach Olsen Racela is under no illusion that the rubber match will be easy, acknowledging all the help he can get, including from his brother and former FEU coach Nash Racela.

"Tinanong ko siya how to beat Ateneo. Sabi niya, babalikan nya raw ako. Last year pa 'yun. Hindi na niya ako nabalikan," said Olsen.

"Right now, we need a collective effort especially sa game on Wednesday. Sisiguraduhin ko na makukuha ko input ni coach Nash sa Wednesday game," he added.

It was a collective effort for the Tamaraws on Sunday when FEU had four players in double figures led by Ron Dennison's 17.

Former Ateneo players Arvin Tolentino and Hubert Cani also made an impact for FEU, combining for 24 points.

Prince Orizu and Richard Escoto combined for 12 rebounds, most of it in the fourth period as the Tamaraws protected a big lead.

Ateneo, meanwhile, is suddenly in a tough situation after spending most of the tournament on top.

"They have a successful season to fall back on in terms of looking for confidence," Baldwin said. "So really, it's about the coaching staff giving these players a message."

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports