(Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. -- AdU vs. UP (M)
4 p.m. -- UST vs. FEU (M)
LOOKING good as the season goes on, defending champion Far Eastern University seeks to solidify its hold of second spot as it plays skidding University of Santo Tomas today in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Tamaraws coach Nash Racela knows that the Growling Tigers will come out strong despite getting mired on a five-game losing skid in the rematch of last season’s Finals at 4 p.m.
“UST is a dangerous team. Their record doesn’t say much about that team. Kailangan mag-handa kami,” said Racela moments after FEU nipped National University, 57-56.
University of the Philippines, riding on crest of its shock 56-52 victory over Katipunan rival Ateneo last Saturday, tries to pull off another reversal as it takes on Adamson in the curtain raiser at 2 p.m.
After losing two of their first three contests, the Tamaraws streaked to five consecutive wins to improve at 6-2, defying all the odds despite losing a lot of key players to graduation.
“We are not dependent on one person,” said Racela.
Even without a go-to guy, FEU is doing well with Monbert Arong and Raymar Jose leading the charge as it keeps within reach of unbeaten La Salle (8-0).
Things look gloomy for the Tigers’ campaign under coach Boy Sablan, as the España-based cagers are the worst defensive team, allowing the opposition to score 80.1 points per outing.
Although Louie Vigil is the team’s leading scorer, the UST skipper lacks consistency in his game, especially when he is needed most.
At 2-6, the Tigers are tied with the Fighting Maroons and idle University of the East from sixth to eighth places.
UP looks like it figured out how to close out games, which was lacking in the first round.
Thanks to a key triple by Gelo Vito in the dwindling seconds, the Maroons ended a long 14-game losing streak against the Blue Eagles dating back from 2009.
Of course, UP wants to win more games as it tries to shed its also-ran image under coach Bo Perasol.
“I think that the main thing that we really need to work on is yung feeling and belief that we can win,” said Perasol, whose squad is last in offense, scoring only 68.3 points per game.
“I was trying to emphasize to them that they can match up against any team. If we can put our acts together, if we can close out games, we can be better in that sense.”
The Falcons, meanwhile, seek to rebound from a 79-86 loss to the Green Archers last Sunday as they lost steam down the stretch after a gallant fightback from 17 points down in the second half.
“With the grit that my team has displayed (against Ateneo), I think we can have a chance,” said Perasol.