EFENDING champion Far Eastern University and University of Santo Tomas clash in a rematch of last year’s Finals today in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Tamaraws and the Growling Tigers have lost a lot of key players to graduation in the off-season, as both teams are going all-out in the 4 p.m. match to boost their respective standings.
At 3-2, FEU is currently tied with Adamson and National University, which will play University of the Philippines in the first game at 2 p.m., in third place.
UST is one game behind with a 2-3 record, but with the close race in the standings, the season hosts cannot afford to lose from now on, as coach Boy Sablan is treating every match as “turning point” of its season.
La Salle is still unbeaten in six starts while upstart Ateneo is in solo second with a 4-2 card. The Green Archers and the Blue Eagles collide tomorrow in the first meeting between the two fiercest collegiate rivals, with the Taft-based cagers gunning for a first round sweep.
The Tamaraws and the Tigers have struggled this season, as their new core are trying to fill the huge void vacated from their teammates who have completed their playing eligibility.
FEU, which sorely missed Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, RR Pogoy and Russel Escoto, is still looking for a go-to guy that can deliver during crunchtime.
UST, runners-up in three of the last four years, is still trying to move on with the departure of the trio of Kevin Ferrer, Ed Daquioag and Karim Abdul, as seniors Louie Vigil and Kent Lao are performing on-and-off this season.
The Tamaraws are coming off their first back-to-back win of the season, a narrow 51-49 decision over the Fighting Maroons last Sunday, the same day that the Tigers dropped a 68-75 decision to the Bulldogs.
“More than our focus on UST, we will spend more time of ourselves correcting things and hopefully we will come out better,” said FEU coach Nash Racela, who will play minus suspended guard Ron Dennison, who was ejected late in the game against UP.
NU was just glad to arrest a two-game slide, as coach Eric Altamirano is looking for consistency.
“We are still work on how to finish strong,” said skipper Jjay Alejandro after the Bulldogs squandered a 25-point lead before fending off a late Tigers fightback.
The Fighting Maroons (1-6) hopes to rebound from successive losses to the Falcons and the Tamaraws