Tuesday, September 16, 2014

UAAP 77: UE beats UST to force playoff for last final four berth

The University of the East (UE) Red Warriors are hoping to continue their late season surge as they wrap up their UAAP Season 77 elimination round campaign against the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Tuesday at the Araneta Coliseum.

A win over the Growling Tigers will put the Red Warriors' record at 9-5, tying them with the National University (NU) Bulldogs and forcing a playoff for the last spot in the Final Four.

The Red Warriors have been on a tear in the second round, winning their last four games including upset victories over NU, Far Eastern University, and defending champion De La Salle University.

In contrast, the Growling Tigers have been on a free fall, having lost four of their last five games. Indeed, UST's only wins in the second round came against cellar-dwellers Adamson University and University of the Philippines (UP).

UE head coach Derrick Pumaren is wary of UST, however, noting that they have nothing to lose.

"UST is gonna be dangerous, because there's no pressure to playing like that," he said.

Pumaren has also warned his team not to be too happy even as their level of play keeps on escalating.

"We're not out of the woods yet," he stressed. "We still have to take care of things on Tuesday against UST. It's still not over for us."

"We cannot be too happy. I warned them again na hindi pa kami pasok (sa Final Four), and we have to realize that. It was a really big win for us (against La Salle), but we're still not there," he added.

Meanwhile, UST is simply seeking to end its UAAP campaign on a bright note. Finalists for the past two seasons, the Tigers struggled in Season 77 in Bong dela Cruz's first year at the helm.

Dela Cruz called on his players to again exhibit "Thomasian pride" in their final game of the season and expressed his hope that they can play the spoiler to UE's Final Four chances.

"Siyempre gusto namin maging spoiler, ma-ano 'yung pag-enter nila sa Final Four, so gagawin namin ang lahat," he said.

Game time is at 2 p.m.

In the second game, Adamson and UP will look to end the season on a winning note when they clash in the final contest of the elimination round.

The Fighting Maroons won the first-round encounter between the two cellar-dwellers, but were unable to add to their win total since.

Meanwhile, Adamson still has not won a game this season.

Both teams have shown great improvement, however, with UP even coming to within two free throws of upsetting top-seed Ateneo.

"The biggest challenge is to respect Adamson," said UP coach Rey Madrid of their game against the Falcons. "They are a sound basketball team, they have the talent, and we have to compete."

"It's not a foregone conclusion or anything. This is something that has to be contested, and we have to compete," added Madrid, who failed to deliver on his promise that UP will win at least three games in Season 77.

Meanwhile, Duremdes challenged his players to avoid making history by going winless in an entire season.

"Sabi ko, we don't want to go down in history na itong batch na ito, sa Season 77, ay walang panalo sa isang season," said Duremdes.

Game time is at 4 p.m.


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