6 p.m. — La Salle vs Adamson
De La Salle University and Adamson University meet for the last time in a playoff for the last Final Four seat in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena today.
Expect nothing but all-out action as they duke it out in the win-or-go-home duel at 6 p.m. for the right to face top seed Ateneo de Manila University in the semifinals.
The Green Archers and Falcons closed the elimination round with identical 7-7 win-loss slates.
They wrapped up their elims in contrasting fashion with La Salle surviving a tough battle over the upset-conscious University of Santo Tomas, 77-72, last Wednesday.
Adamson, meanwhile, absorbed a 61-66 loss at the hands of the Blue Eagles, who gave a lifeline to archrival Green Archers who were forced to root for Ateneo to win for a chance at making it back to the semifinals.
The Falcons and Green Archers split their elimination round head-to-head making their third meeting an even affair.
Adamson leaned on Jerom Lastimosa’s 29-point burst in outlasting La Salle, 86-84, in overtime in the first round meeting last 22 October.
The Green Archers got their payback last 17 November when they clipped the Falcons, 81-78, in a game where Adamson played sans Lastimosa, who was then nursing a right foot injury.
With both elims results close, Adamson head coach Nash Racela expects more of the same in the match that has a bigger thing at stake.
“Well, we conditioned the mind of our players that every game is a grind out game. Always close. We were successful against NU last time. We were not successful against Ateneo. We’re getting used to it. That’s good because now, we’re gaining experience playing close games. Hopefully, on Sunday, whether it’s close or not, we’ll pull through,” Racela said.
The mentor added that keeping La Salle out of the foul line will be a huge factor.
“When we lost to La Salle we had eight free throws, they had 29. Despite that, it was a close game. Those are the things we have to improve: Defending without fouling. We expect the same. I don’t think Sunday, it’ll change,” Racela said.
Backing Lastimosa up are AP Manlapaz, center Lenda Douanga, Didat Hanapi and Joshua Yerro.
La Salle, on the other hand, is hoping to get their key players back in good condition for the do-or-die match.
Green Archers coach Derrick Pumaren is optimistic that Schonny Winston, who has been dealing with a calf injury that saw him miss four games and play a grand total of 22 seconds in his last three games, would be ready to step up.
“Well, we’re hoping, given the chance to play in a knockout game, we’re really banking on preparing him to be back in the knockout game,” Pumaren said.
La Salle also played sans Michael Phillips and Kevin Quiambao in its last game against lowly UST due to unspecified illnesses. Both are expected to get the green light to see action.
The Final Four will begin on Wednesday, 7 December, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Facing off in the other semis pairing are defending champion and twice-to-beat armed University of the Philippines and National University.