University of the Philippines may be on a four-game roll and slowly breaking away from the rest of the pack at the solo top spot but head coach Goldwin Monteverde knows that their next opponent is not a team that can be taken lightly.
Especially if it is the same squad that almost had UP’s neck in the first round.
The Fighting Maroons shoot to solidify their hold of the leaderboard in a rematch against Adamson University in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85 men’s basketball tournament today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Game time is set at 1 p.m. following the 11 a.m. curtain-raiser between University of Santo Tomas and University of the East.
Facing off at 4:30 p.m. are De La Salle University and surging Far Eastern University while second-running Ateneo de Manila University takes on National University in the 6:30 p.m. nightcap.
UP sports a 7-1 win-loss record as it draws closer to securing a spot in the Final Four.
The Maroons are fresh from a payback win over the Bulldogs, 75-63, last Sunday.
In their last outing, UP needed extra minutes to turn back Adamson, 87-78, almost a month ago.
“It was a close game in the first round, I guess it goes with every team. You can’t take any team lightly this season. We respect all teams that we go up against the same thing with Adamson,” Monteverde said.
The Falcons are very much in the thick of the battle for a semis seat with a 3-4 slate tied with La Salle which they defeated, 86-64, in overtime last 22 October.
Adamson also got an extended rest after its match with Ateneo was postponed due to severe tropical storm “Paeng.”
UP gunner Zavier Lucero, who dropped 16 points in his last outing, is also wary of what the Falcons are capable of, particularly their ace shooter Jerom Lastimosa.
The seasoned guard fired a career-high 29 points in Adamson’s latest upset. Against the Maroons in the first round, Lastimosa tallied 25 markers with six rebounds and six assists.
“Our mindset going to every game is the same. Basketball is a game where anyone can beat anyone. You can’t take anyone lightly, especially Adamson,” he said.
“We know they got a little bit of momentum on their side. We’re taking that team very seriously because it’s a tough game every single time we play them.”
Aside from Lucero, the Maroons’ hopes of sustaining their hot streak also rest on the shoulders of James Spencer, Carl Tamayo and Cyril Gonzales, who had a breakout performance of 15 points off the bench the last time out.
Meanwhile, Ateneo, which is on a two-game winning streak for a 5-2 record, seeks to complete an elims sweep of NU, which sits at solo third with a 5-3 card.
The Tamaraws, on the other hand, set their eyes on a fourth win in a row following their 75-68 victory over the Warriors last Sunday.
FEU and UE are tied for sixth to seventh spots with identical 3-5 marks.
The Tigers, on the other hand, hope to arrest an alarming six-game slide.