MANILA, Philippines - Far Eastern U and National U clash again in a replay of their controversial second-round matchup, pursuing their own Final Four agenda today on the last day of elims in the UAAP Season 75 men’s basketball at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tams (9-4) gun for that crucial victory that will ensure a spot in the semis and even a shot at the No. 2 and twice-to-beat while the Bulldogs (8-5) shoot for their first F4 appearance since 2001.
"It’s a no-tomorrow game for us. If we lose, we're in danger of being ousted but if we win, we'll have a chance to be No. 2," said FEU coach Bert Flores of the all-important 4 p.m. tussle.
A triumph by FEU will earn them a playoff with UST (10-4) for the second berth while giving DLSU (9-5) the last F4 slot and eliminating the Bulldogs.
On the other hand, a victory by NU will forge a three-way tie for third with FEU and La Salle at 9-5, handing UST the outright No. 2. In this scenario, the quotient system will be applied and the Bulldogs, owning the highest quotient, will get the No. 3, leaving FEU and DLSU to a rubbermatch for the fourth and last berth.
"It's important we get this win to make it to the Final Four," NU coach Eric Altamirano said. "Because of the standings, I expect this to be a tough, even physical game."
Adding to the drama is the fact that it’s the second serving of the two teams’ Sept. 2 matchup, which the Tams initially won on a last-second layup by RR Garcia, 77-75.
The Bulldogs placed that game under protest, which was junked by commissioner Ato Badolato. However, NU elevated it to the board of trustees, which eventually voted to nullify that game and ordered today’s replay.
"We were given a second chance, now we have to take advantage of it," said NU’s ace gunner Bobby Ray Parks Jr.
Flores said FEU considers that previous game a thing of the past now. “It’s best to move on. For us, we’re just maintaining a positive mindset now and just think that they (NU) are our last game in the eliminations.”
FEU will play without bruising forward Arvie Bringas, who will sit it out like he did last Sept. 2. This is the original sanction he got for committing a disqualifying foul (spitting) in the the Tams’ rough game with Ateneo.
Assistant coach Ronald Magtulis will also serve out his one-game suspension for an offcourt run-in with Nico Salva’s father, Mando, recently. The elder Salva was barred from the patron section as a result but has appealed the league decision, maintaining he was merely protecting his son whom he claimed was threatened by Magtulis.
While the rest mix it up for F4 berths and positioning, the Blue Eagles are perched on top with a 12-2 card and guaranteed a semis bonus.