Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin will be more than just an interested spectator when La Salle and University of the Philippines (UP) duel in a do-or-die match for the last Finals berth in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament.
“I think … if you polled the coaches around the league, probably most of us would say it was a toss-up,” Baldwin said.
The other coaches, however, have little at stake with the game.
Baldwin will begin scouting both squads as his defending champion Blue Eagles wait on the sidelines for the team that will try to knock them off their lofty perch.
“The two regular season games between the two teams were very close,” said Baldwin. “It’s difficult for UP coming off a … [loss] to run around and get themselves right back up.”
La Salle forced UP to reach for its twice-to-beat bonus after holding off the Maroons, 83-80, last Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“In this type of game, you have to want it more than your opponent. We failed to match their (La Salle) intensity,” said UP coach Goldwyn Monteverde after the game. “But this is not the first time this happened to us. There were games in the past that we didn’t get the rhythm that we want.”
And the Archers may have momentum on their side when they troop back to the bayside arena for their 2 p.m. encounter against the No. 2 seeds, who swept the two preliminary matches between both schools.
But Baldwin sees the Maroons coming out with a little more fire.
“I still think that perhaps UP might be a smallest of favorites in the game because certainly they will have the motivation of having lost the game,” said Baldwin. “But I wouldn’t put any money on it if I had tons of it. I wouldn’t put money on the outcome of the game.”
La Salle, meanwhile, is hoping it doesn’t get swept up in the crest of its victory and stays focused on the job at hand.
“We are happy with the win but we have to remember that we only tied the series,” said Archers coach Derick Pumaren after Wednesday’s massive win. “So there’s still one more game and we just have to go back to the drawing board after this just to plan and be ready for the comeback of UP.”
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