(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
11 a.m. -- DLSU vs. NU (W Finals)
2 p.m. -- Awarding Ceremony
3:30 p.m. -- ADMU vs. DLSU (M Finals)
FOR coach Aldin Ayo, Game 2 of the UAAP men’s basketball championship could be La Salle’s defining moment.
After all, the Green Archers are the consensus title favorite this season with a talent-laden roster willing to set aside their individualistic plays for the benefit of the team.
“Good thing na ang mga players na ito, nagsasakripisyo. Feeling nilang kailangang umiskor, pero ang dami nang scorer e so nagse-set sila ng play, nagse-set sila ng screens,” said Ayo.
“Wala kaming role players, pero lahat sila, lahat yun, ginagawa nila,” he added.
La Salle seeks to close it out and capture its ninth crown against bitter rival Ateneo at 3:30 p.m. today before an expected huge crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
To annex their first title since 2013, the Green Archers must elevate their performance after they overcame a tough Blue Eagles in last Saturday’s 67-65 victory.
“We have to do better in the next game,” said Jeron Teng, who is hoping to end his five-year stint with La Salle as a winner.
Proving that Ateneo has a capability of grinding it out with its opponents, swingman Thirdy Ravena knows that his team will not just roll over and die.
In the opener, the Eagles valiantly rallied from an early 15 point deficit before the Archers were bailed out by Teng on both ends of the floor in crunchtime.
“We fought, just like we do every single game. Even though things did not seem okay sa start, we just played with our hearts,” said Ravena.
For Ateneo, it was some sort of accomplishment that La Salle’s MVP Ben Mbala was “held down” to 20 points and 15 rebounds.
Learning a lot from the Finals opener loss, the Eagles are ready to slug it out against the Archers and score a repeat of their stunning second round win.
“I think nakakaya naming makipag-compete sa La Salle. They’re a very tough team, it’s the Finals, it’s Ateneo-La Salle, pero lumaban kami,” said Ravena.
A victory by the Eagles will force a deciding Game 3 on Saturday, but the Archers are a determined bunch to complete a dominant campaign.
In the women’s division, National University seeks a third straight perfect season against La Salle in Game 2 scheduled at 11 a.m.
The Lady Bulldogs fended off a tough Lady Archers challenge to eke out a 77-74 win in last Saturday’s opener to extend their remarkable run to 47 games.
The league will honor the individual awardees, led by La Salle’s Mbala and Aljun Melecio at 2 p.m.
Mbala and Melecio became the first Archers pair to win the MVP and Rookie of the Year award since Mark Telan and Ren-Ren Ritualo won similar awards in 1997.
Aside from Mbala, Teng and Ravena, the Mythical Five also includes Far Eastern University’s Raymar Jose and University of the Philippines’ Paul Desiderio.