The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons are expected to go all out against the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers when they meet in a do-or-die encounter at the Mall of Asia Asia Arena.
The twice-to-beat Fighting Maroons will seek to bounce back from their 69-89 to loss to the Growling Tigers in the 82nd University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball stepladder semifinals.
If they hurdle the Growling Tigers, the Fighting Maroons will be able to make it to the best-of-three finals against the defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles for the second straight season.
But UST will be ready for the Fighting Maroons, who have never won against the Growling Tigers in their last three games this season.
“They’re going to adjust. I think they’re going to be physical. Sa akin, kapag mga do-or-die games, nangyayari ‘yun -- doing whatever it takes,” said Growling Tigers’ coach Aldin Ayo.
If the Tigers score their fourth straight win against UP, they will be in their ninth championship appearance.
“Unang-una, we have to recover ‘yung conditioning namin. I have to commend my assistant coaches, especially my conditioning coach and our PT (physical therapist). Grabe ‘yung ginagawa ng dalawa to prepare the players namin in terms of the physical aspect,” added Ayo.
Once again, big man Soulemane Chabi Yo will try to stay his ground against UP’s slotman Bright Akhuetie.
“We have to be a lot better. A lot better (against UST),” said UP coach Bo Perasol.
The Growling Tigers succeeded in limiting UP’s key player Kobe Paras to under 10 points.
For Paras, who leads UP with an average of 16.77 points, it was the first time he has been shackled this way.
Overall, UST managed to outscore UP, 35-11, on perimeter points.
The last time around, Rhenz Abando and Chabi Yo eked out 17 points and their double-digit efforts with Mark Nonoy, Sherwin Concepcion and CJ Cansino allowed UST to withstand UP’s repeated comebacks. Peter Atencio