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Crucial battle

  • Written by Theodore Jurado
  • Published in Basketball
  • Read: 196
MBALA: Archer on  a mission MBALA: Archer on a mission

DEFENDING champion La Salle seeks to make quick work of Adamson as the UAAP men’s basketball Final Four blasts off at 4 p.m. today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The third-ranked Falcons are facing a tall order against the Green Archers, going 0-2 in their head-to-head this season, but coach Aldin Ayo knows that the rematch of last year’s semifinals will be an entirely different story.

“Same expectations. It will going to be a dogfight. For sure they (Adamson) are going to prepare against us,” said Ayo after steering La Salle to a 12-2 record in second place.

“Our second round game was close, it was decided in less than a minute. They were up noong endgame, but we were able to get the win,” he added.

The other Final Four pairing pits elimination round topnotcher Ateneo and No. 4 Far Eastern University at 4 p.m. tomorrow at the Big Dome.

Armed with twice-to-beat incentives, the Archers and the Blue Eagles need only to win once to set up another Finals showdown between the two fiercest rivals.
    
In a tremendous display of character, La Salle was able to avoid of a dreaded scenario of having a step-ladder semifinals after foiling Ateneo’s sweep bid with a 79-76 win last Sunday.
    
Reigning MVP Ben Mbala is a man on a mission as of late for the Archers, while Ricci Rivero has been solid, especially in the second round, where his numbers have gone up significantly.
    
With the health of the Falcons starting backcourt’s in question after suffering ankle injuries in last week’s 54-71 loss to the Tamaraws, coach Franz Pumaren isn’t making any excuse.
    
Jerrick Ahanmisi and Jerie Pingoy hopes to be in 100 percent game shape just in time for the no-tomorrow game against La Salle.
    
“That’s part and parcel of playing in a competition but never in my coaching career have I used injuries as an excuse. So we just have to make sure everybody will do their own role and everybody will be contributing one way or another,” said Pumaren, who guided Adamson to a second straight Final Four appearance.
    
For the Falcons to stay in the hunt, Cameroonian center Papi Sarr needs to elevate his game in their duel with compatriot Mbala in the middle.