(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. — Ateneo vs Adamson
4 p.m. — La Salle vs UE
League-leading University of the Philippines and National University inched closer to clinching the Final Four twice-to-beat advantages.
The Fighting Maroons blew out Far Eastern University, 81-64, while the Bulldogs crushed University of Santo Tomas, 76-65, in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 men’s basketball tournament yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
UP and NU, which will face off at the end of the eliminations on 18 November, remained tied on top of the standings with identical 10-2 win-loss cards.
The Fighting Maroons started off hot creating an 11-point separation, but had a little trouble at the start of the second quarter before eventually taking full control of the game in the second half.
UP, which secured a fifth straight semis stint, only needs to win its last two elimination-round assignments to bag the semis advantage.
“That’s the goal (to get the semis incentive). We’re just taking it one practice, one game at a time. We know what’s at stake,” Fighting Maroons assistant coach Christian Luanzon said.
“Last game, it clinched the Final Four for us and now it’s another goal so coach Gold (Monteverde) reminded the team to just keep pounding.”
Sophomore Aldous Torculas had a career game, scoring 13 points off a 5-of-8 field goal shooting he laced with five rebounds, two assists and two steals to lead UP.
Francis Lopez added 12 points, grabbed nine boards and dished out four assists while Harold Alarcon posted 11 points for the Fighting Maroons.
Meanwhile, Kean Baclaan showed the way for NU with 13 points, five assists and two rebounds while Patrick Yu and PJ Palacielo added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
UP opened the game with a 16-5 scoring barrage only to see FEU mount a counter-attack behind Jorick Bautista’s outside shooting in the closing stretch of the first quarter.
The Tamaraws even took a two-point lead at the start of the second quarter but were easily erased by Fighting Maroons, who pulled away for good in the second half.
Chicco Briones gave UP its biggest lead, 66-47, off a jumper with 8:06 left in the payoff period. From there the Tamaraws never came closer than 11.
FEU dropped its fourth game in a row and slid to a 3-9 slate to miss the Final Four for the second straight season.
LJ Gonzales got 20 points while Bautista added 17 points for the Tamaraws.
On the other hand, the Tigers suffered their fifth straight loss for a woeful 1-11 card at the bottom of the standings.
Christian Manaytay had 14 points while Nic Cabanero produced a double-double of 13 markers and 10 rebounds for UST.