La Salle played its part in closing out its UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament elimination round assignment, and winning over bitter rival Ateneo on Saturday seems to just be icing on the cake for what the Green Archers achieved after sweeping the second round.
A 72-69 win over the Blue Eagles before more than 14,900 screaming souls clad in green and blue at Smart Araneta Coliseum not only avenged a first round loss but also practically gave the Archers a sure twice-to-beat bonus in the Final Four—if not top seeding after Sunday’s final game.
“We always make sure to take care of what we have control of, and we don’t really know and we don’t wanna pay attention to what’s gonna happen in the next few days,” coach Topex Robinson said, referring to who they will draw as a foe in the semifinals.
“We’re not gonna waste time thinking about who we’re gonna play, but we’re gonna put all of our energy and effort in making sure we’re okay.”
No matter, whoever the foe will be will certainly have a mountain to scale.
La Salle finished with an 11-3 slate to earn the top spot in the standings for the first time, overtaking University of the Philippines (11-2) with National University (NU) at 10-3.
As things stand, only a loss of 39 points or more by UP when it battles NU Sunday will deny La Salle a top two berth when the quotient system in the case of a triple tie for No. 1 ensues. Should the Fighting Maroons win, they gain No. 1 and La Salle the second seed.
Ateneo dropped to 7-7, and the defending champion Eagles would have to see a University of the East upset of Adamson also Sunday to advance as the No. 4 seed in the semifinals, otherwise, they square off with the Soaring Falcons.
Prepping for next season
Meanwhile, University of Santo Tomas (UST) will walk away from a forgettable season hoping to be better when its time for redemption comes.
And that road for the Growling Tigers starts on Wednesday as they take just a few days off.
“In basketball, it’s all about timing. Winning, becoming a champion, building a strong team, other teams graduating their players,” coach Pido Jarencio told reporters after UST ended its campaign on Saturday with a victory against Far Eastern University, 57-53, at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“It’s a process. For us, the process continues on,” added Jarencio, whose Tigers finished with at 2-12, with both wins coming at the expense of the Tamaraws.
Jarencio is not pointing any fingers at what went wrong in their season. In fact, he is taking all the blame.
“I take full responsibility,” he said.