Falcons eye outright Final Four berth against the Blue Eagles

ADAMSON UNIVERSITY FALCONS
COACH NASH RACELA — PHILIPPINE STAR/ RUSSELL PALMA

Games Wednesday(Smart Araneta Coliseum)

Women’s Final Four9 a.m. — NU vs ADMU11 a.m. — DLSU vs UST

Men’s elimination2 p.m. — DLSU vs UST4 p.m. — ADMU vs AdU

ADAMSON University (AdU) shoots for an outright ticket as the last passenger to the Final Four bus with no further complications when it attempts to pull the rug from under Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) in the final elimination playdate of the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Clinging at solo fourth spot with a 7-6 card for full game advantage over No. 5 De La Salle (6-7), a win by the Falcons at 4 p.m. would book them to a straight fight to the semifinals — without any detour or layover.

Otherwise, given a De La Salle victory in the first game at 2 p.m. against cellar dweller Santo Tomas (1-12), the Falcons would still have to go through a playoff for No. 4 with the Archers by virtue of a tie at 7-7.

Reigning champion University of the Philippines or UP (11-3), Ateneo (10-3) and National University or NU (9-5) were the first three teams to book their seats in the semis with the Fighting Maroons and the Blue Eagles clinching twice-to-beat advantages as sure top two finishers.

Ateneo actually sports a chance to finish at No. 1 over rival UP for strategic playoff positioning with a win against Adamson.

A victory by the Blue Eagles would also keep a small window of opportunity for their other rivals in the Green Archers to stay alive as long as they take care of business against the Growling Tigers -— turning the last playdate into a crucial one with huge implications for all concerned squads.

That possibility, however, only makes the Soaring Falcons extra motivated to crash the party and spoil a highly-anticipated Ateneo-La Salle collision in the Final Four.

“Well actually, a lot of people are counting us out already, because they want De La Salle to make it to the Final Four. I don’t know, maybe they’re anticipating Ateneo No. 1 and De La Salle No. 4 for the semis,” said Adamson mentor Nash Racela.

“I know how people think. We want to counter that. That’s actually our goal. Expectations and reality are always different so we’ll try our best. We’ll try our absolute best.”

Ateneo, for its part, will march into battle with only one goal regardless of an array of fates at stake in their hands.

“Playing Adamson today is a huge affair. It allows us to finish top of the table, and I don’t think many people would have expected that at the beginning or in the middle of the season. We will play to win. There’s only one way to play the game of basketball — play to win,” said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.

Meanwhile in women’s hoops Final Four action, six-time champion and No. 1 National University battles Ateneo at 9 a.m. while second-seeded De La Salle takes on University of Santo Tomas at 11 a.m. with hopes of maximizing their twice-to-beat bonus to arrange a quick finals date. — John Bryan Ulanday

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