For Ateneo Blue Eagles’ coach Tab Baldwin, both the La Salle Green Archers and the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons have equal chances of reaching the finals of the 84th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament.
Baldwin feels that the Fighting Maroons can’t still be counted out in their Final Four rubber match with the Green Archers at 6 pm today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“I still think it’s a toss-up, I still think that perhaps UP might be the smallest of favorites in the game, because certainly, they will now have that motivation of having lost the game, and but I wouldn’t put any money on it if I had tons of it. I wouldn’t put money on the outcome of this game, “said Baldwin.
The Ateneo mentor expressed his thoughts on who their opponents could be in the finals after the three-time defending champion Blue Eagles earned their fifth-straight championship appearance on Wednesday evening with their 85-72 crushing of the fourth-seed Far Eastern University Tamaraws.
The Eagles, with BJ Andrade making 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the clash with FEU, are in very high spirits after having won 40 of their last 41 games since 2018.
The Green Archers, who are seeking their 17th finals’ appearance since 2017, are expecting another tough battle with the Fighting Maroons.
And coach Derrick Pumaren knows it’s not over yet after the Archers, who weathered a late rally to put away the Maroons, 83-80, in their first Final Four showdown on Wednesday.
“We’re happy that we won the ball game. But we just have to realize also that we only tied the series. So there’s still one more game, and we just have to go back to the drawing board after this, and we just have to plan, and be ready for the comeback of UP on Friday, ”said Pumaren.
The Green Archers feel they only have a small amount of momentum after disrupting UP’s five -game winning streak.
On the other hand, UP coach Goldwin Monteverde said he is familiar with the situation that his team is in, considering that he’s been through many battles as a high school coach, having guided a squad like the National University Bullpups to a number of junior divisions. honors.
And the Maroons, he believes, will be able to bounce back in their rubber match with the Green Archers.
“First time din nangyari sa amin, may mga games din kami before na ‘di namin makuha masyado’ yung rhythm na gusto namin. Minsan nangyayari ‘yan. And important right now is just to know, makita namin where to adjust. Sa ganitong klaseng season, wala ka naman panahon para sumama pa loob mo. We need to bounce back, and be ready for Friday’s game, ”said Monteverde.
It is still not clear if one of the Maroons’ key players in CJ Cansino will play. Cansino did not see action against the Archers due to a bone bruise that he a sustained following UP’s upset win over the Blue Eagles last Sunday.
The Green Archers will be banking on the inside games of Justine Baltazar and Deschon Winston. Baltazar averages 12.86 points and 11 rebounds and Winston is good for 12.38 points and 3.92 rebounds.
Perimeter shooter Evan Nelle can also be potent with his 10.93 points per game.
For the Fighting Maroons, a trio of scorers can lift up the Diliman cagers with Zavier Lucero good with an average of 13.67 points, and Ricci Rivero backing him up with 13.4 ppg. Carl Tamayo can also be counted in with 12.8 ppg.