MANILA, Philippines—The second and last berth in the UAAP Season 82 finals is on the line when University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas face off at Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.
The Growling Tigers, seeded fourth in the semifinals, forced a do-or-die game after dismantling the Fighting Maroons on Sunday, 89-69.
It was already their third win over UP in the men's basketball tournament, having won both of their elimination round encounters.
But those three victories will be for naught if the Tigers don't hack out another triumph in Wednesday's do-or-die game, and coach Aldin Ayo is well aware of how difficult the task at hand is for his team.
Gametime is at 4 p.m.
"We know that it’s difficult. I know that mahirap. Before we played against FEU, nakakalula kasi parang ang hirap, ang daming dadaanan," said Ayo, referring to their win over Far Eastern University in the first phase of the stepladder semifinals.
"But for us our mindset is if you know how to get there and you are willing to do that, don’t be too worried as long as you do your best.
"So, we’re going to do our best. We’re going to prepare and let’s see on Wednesday."
The Fighting Maroons, meanwhile, are under plenty of pressure as they are in danger of squandering the twice-to-beat advantage they worked so hard for.
UP finished as the second seed after a 9-5 campaign in the elimination round, but so far the Maroons have had no answers for the Tigers.
On Sunday, they could not contain UST's 3-point shooting early on, and in the fourth quarter, Season 82 MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo broke loose to secure victory for the España-based squad.
UP head coach Bo Perasol is asking his players to play with greater effort, after being "outhustled" by the Tigers once more.
"The blessing and the silver lining is we put ourselves in the situation wherein we have another chance and that chance is going to be the last one for us," Perasol said.
"So, if we want to be given the chance to be in the Finals again, and deserve to be in the Finals, we really have to play better."
Already waiting in the finals are defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles, who swept their way to the best-of-3 series. Game 1 of the championship round is on Saturday at Araneta Coliseum.
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