Ateneo, UST battle for last Final 4 spot
MANILA – Defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers will battle for the last slot in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 76 men’s basketball tournament Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ateneo and UST, the two finalists last season, are tied in the league standings with identical 7-6 records.
The Blue Eagles drew first blood against the Growling Tigers this season, winning their first round match 61-57 in a game wherein UST played without injured star guard Jeric Teng.
The win against UST was the second in Ateneo’s five-game winning streak in the middle of the season, but they have since lost two of their last three games and are in danger of missing the Final Four after having won the championship for the past five seasons.
Adding to Ateneo’s woes is the absence of head coach Bo Perasol, who was tasked by the UAAP Board to serve out his suspension in their final game of the elimination round, after his presence in their game against University of the East last September 8 generated controversy.
“My team will fight for that Final Four slot with or without me at the helm,” Perasol said.
Meanwhile, UST is coming off a loss at the hands of De La Salle last Saturday.
“We are down, but we are not out,” UST coach Pido Jarencio told The Varsitarian after their 64-69 loss.
In the first game of the double-header, the UE Red Warriors will try to doom the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons to a winless season.
UE, one of the pre-season favorites to contend for the title, crashed out of the Final Four picture after losing to Ateneo but can end their season on a high note against the Maroons.