LA SALLE coach Aldin Ayo said he does not have any preference which team they face in the finals of the 79th University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament.
“I don’t care if FEU or Ateneo wins. Bahala silang magpatayan. Pero, kung sino ang mananalo, yun ang kakalabanin namin (They can kill each other. But we will face the team which wins),” said Ayo.
The second seeded Ateneo Blue Eagles and the FEU Tamaraws will meet on Saturday for the second finals berth.
Ayo said a lot of work needs to be done on their game after they pulled off a 69-64 beating of the Adamson Soaring Falcons in their Final Four showdown Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Ayo admitted that the Green Archers played “a horrible game” in their big effort to return to the finals in the 79th University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament.
“Even in the third and the fourth, we were not playing our game. So, I’m hesitant to congratulate them because it was a horrible game for us,” said Ayo.
The Green Archers struggled to find their form for most of the game, and committed 26 turnovers, compared to the Soaring Falcons, who had 15.
Ayo said the team felt the heat of Adamson’s pressure defense early in the game.
The Green Archers had a better shooting percentage of 44.4 percent while Adamson shooting was 31.94 percent.
With Jeron Teng taking charge in the final period, things eventually turned around for La Salle.
Teng, who is on his final year with the Green Archers, struck with 11 of his 25-point output in the last quarter, including a crucial drive in the last 4:16.
His basket came after the Green Archer Aljun Melecio sank two gift shots off Rob Manalang’s unsportsmanlike foul, and as La Salle retained possession afterwards, 64-58.
With their victory, the top seeded Green Archers are now back in the best-of-three finals after three years.
In 2013, La Salle, then coached by Juno Sauler, reached the finals and won the eighth crown at the expense of the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers.
This time, they made it to the best-of-three finals under new coach Aldin Ayo, who had delivered Letran to the National Collegiate Athletic Association cage crown the year before.