Twice-to-beat edge not a guarantee of success in Final Four, warn Abdul and dela Cruz
UST coach Bong de la Cruz is looking to make it to the finals in only his second year in charge of the Tigers. Jerome Ascano

EVEN as it clinched a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four and a chance to claim the No. 1 seeding, University of Santo Tomas knows there's a lot of work to be done.

The Tigers missed the semifinals last year with a 5-9 win-loss slate in coach Bong de la Cruz’s first year in charge but now have come back strong and finished the eliminations with an 11-3 win-loss card.

Fifth-year import Karim Abdul said clinching a twice-to-beat advantage is just the beginning.

“It’s just the start. We are not aiming to be just there. We are aiming for the finals,” said Abdul, who is hoping to win the UAAP title to put a fitting end to his collegiate career.

The Tigers now have a long break before the semifinals, and De la Cruz said they will use the time wisely.

“We will continue to put hard work sa practice at i-eenjoy namin ’yung practice,” Dela Cruz said.

“We will not stop there. ’Yung last year, talagang sobrang down pero ngayon, na-achieve na namin ’yung twice-to-beat,” he added.

De la Cruz noted the twice-to-beat incentive, or even the top seeding, is no assurance of victory against the remaining teams in contention.

“Kahit sino malakas. Ang kailangan namin is ’yung sarili namin, maging healthy at makapag-prepare kami ng tama,” Dela Cruz said.

Last year’s losing finalist Far Eastern University has secured a semifinal berth, while also still battling for places in the playoffs are third-running Ateneo, reigning champion National University, La Salle and University of the East.

FEU, at 10-2, still has two remaining games against National University and La Salle.

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