(Mall of Asia Arena)
11 a.m. –- Ateneo vs UST
1 p.m. — UP vs NU
4:30 p.m. — La Salle vs UE
6:30 p.m. — FEU vs Adamson
Defending champion University of the Philippines puts its pristine record on the line when it faces an equally tall and athletic National University squad in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85 men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The unbeaten Fighting Maroons gun for their fourth straight win to tighten their grip on the solo lead in the 1 p.m. showdown of this scheduled quadruple-header playdate.
Meanwhile, Ateneo de Manila University is on a mission to bounce back from a stinging loss when it battles University of Santo Tomas at 11 a.m., while De La Salle University looks to knot a third straight win in the 4:30 skirmish with University of the East.
Struggling teams Adamson University and Far Eastern University will cap the day when they collide at 6:30 p.m.
Consistency will be key in the battle between the Fighting Maroons and Bulldogs who have been struggling to sustain their momentum in their first three matches.
UP escaped with a 73-67 win over the Tamaraws last Saturday but not after blowing an early 13-point lead and crawling back from behind in the fourth quarter.
“We’re looking, really, to be consistent for four quarters, especially on the defensive end,” Fighting Maroons assistant coach Christian Luanzon said.
Luanzon also underscored the importance of UP controlling the boards.
The Fighting Maroons were outrebounded by the much smaller FEU squad, 38-46, and even allowed the Tamaraws to snatch 22 defensive boards they converted into 16 second chance points.
“I think that’s just one thing that we have to mention, being one of the biggest teams in the league, we were out-rebounded,” Luanzon said as they will be taking on a good rebounding rival.
“That’s really a no-no for us.”
The Bulldogs also share the same problems in their past outings, so addressing the major issue of consistency, according to head coach Jeff Napa, will give them a big chance of pulling off an upset over the fancied Diliman-based squad.
“We need to show maturity. We need to address our tendency of relaxing after building a commanding lead,” Napa said.
NU overcame a fourth quarter revolt from the Tigers to get back on the winning track, 69-63, last Sunday for a 2-1 win-loss record at second spot tied with the Green Archers and the Blue Eagles.
But it was an ugly win with the Bulldogs allowing UST to come alarmingly close after building an 18-point gap.
“We can’t play as we did in our last game knowing that UP gets really aggressive in the second half. Nobody wins in the first half anyway so we have to be ready for whatever they throw at us,” Napa emphasized.
The Bulldogs will rely on another explosive outing from rookie Kean Baclaan and John Lloyd Clemente, who both finished with 16 points against UST, and Omar John providing stability at the painted area.
NU also has to plot a good game plan to stop, if not slow down, UP main gunners in Most Valuable Player frontrunner Carl Tamayo, Terrence Fortea, Malick Diouf and Zavier Lucero, who all submitted double-figure scoring the last time out.