MANILA, Philippines – It’s now or never for the FEU Tamaraws.
In the final game of the UAAP Season 81 elimination round, the 7-6 Tams could lose everything to a team who will gain nothing, the second-seeded Adamson Soaring Falcons.
A loss for the Tamaraws would mean that they’re eliminated from Final Four contention, ending the suspense for 8-6 La Salle, which would advance as the fourth and final seed.
However, if they sweep the Falcons this season, they get a knockout playoff match against the Green Archers for a chance to face twice-to-beat Ateneo in the Final Four.
That is if the Falcons even allow such a sweep to happen.
Sitting at a 10-3 record, the Falcons have not been swept by any team this season except defending champion Ateneo. It wouldn’t be like multi-titled coach Franz Pumaren to just let his team be a doormat for someone else’s benefit.
Team captain Sean Manganti definitely shares the same philosophy and likes to personally hand losses instead of absorbing them.
While his 14.8 points per game average is a testament of his impact to the team, his most telling quality cannot even be quantified: clutch.
Throughout this season, the Fil-Am star has carved out a reputation of delivering dagger buckets whenever needed, most often against their playoff foe UP.
Why not add FEU to the heartbroken list while he’s at it, right?
However, in the event that Manganti is ruled out due to an undisclosed injury, it would be the perfect opportunity for Arvin Tolentino to seize in order to save his controversial UAAP career. His 13.6 points per game average is the only one in double-digits for his team, and they will need every single mark they can get against the streaky Falcons.
Overall, fans should expect a bout of smart basketball, with FEU shooting a league second-best 40.5% from the field. Adamson isn’t far behind at fourth with a 39.7% clip on average. The Tamaraws also lead the league with a 31.3% clip from beyond the arc while the sniping Falcons are a close second at 30.6%.
Both squads also produce offense at a near-identical rate, with Adamson averaging 74.8 points per game compared to FEU’s 73.1.
However, the Falcons are a cut above the Tamaraws in terms of defense, most notably with a league-best 7.3 steals a game – a direct product of the feared “Pumaren Press” defense. FEU is far behind with just 3.8 swipes per contest.
Adamson is also a top 3 team in blocked shots with a 4 blocks per game average. Meanwhile, the guard-heavy FEU is dead-last with just 1.9 swats per night.
FEU needs at least one more win to preserve its season. But the Tams must go through a team aiming to preserve its pride. – Rappler.com