THREE wins away from jumping straight to the Finals, another perfect UAAP men’s basketball campaign looms for Ateneo.
But with a rigorous schedule this season, where teams have to play three times a week, coach Tab Baldwin is not upbeat of his Blue Eagles of duplicating their 2019 feat of completing a 16-0 romp.
“I’ve said this at the beginning, I thought it would be almost impossible to go without a defeat through this season and I still think it is a remote possibility,” said Baldwin.
In the final week of eliminations, Ateneo will have streaking Adamson today, unpredictable Far Eastern University on Thursday and second-running University of the Philippines on Labor Day.
Baldwin appreciated the efforts of his athletes for grinding it out and giving 100 percent best when they entered the bubble in February to set in motion the Katipunan-based team’s four-peat bid.
“We’re going almost three months without any days off and I do not really know how the players are doing it. My heart goes out to them, honestly,” said Baldwin.
“I’m not just making this statement, I was thinking about that last night because I was thinking about how tired I was and I can only imagine how tired the players are,” he added.
The Blue Eagles take on the Falcons, who are undefeated in the second round, in the third game of quadruplebill at 4:30 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Undefeated in 11 contests, Ateneo has already assured of the twice-to-beat bonus in the Final Four – but is looking of course for a upgrade which is making it to the league’s biggest stage outright.
After a disappointing 1-6 first round stint, Adamson climbed to the Final Four range by winning four straight games. The Falcons are now level with the Tamaraws in fourth place at 5-6.
FEU plays La Salle in the 10 a.m. matinee.
The Green Archers, who are coming off a tough 69-72 loss to the Fighting Maroons, need to beat the Tamaraws and a Eagles win over the Falcons to make a return trip to the Final Four after missing the bus in the last two seasons.
Running third with a 7-4 card, La Salle is ahead by two games over Adamson and FEU.
In other games, UP tackles also-ran University of the East at 12:30 p.m., while National University and University of the Philippines collide at 7 p.m.
The Maroons, who at 9-2 are two games ahead of the Archers in the race for the twice-to-beat bonus in either the Final Four or step-ladder format, are tipped to prevail over the 0-11 Red Warriors.
The Bulldogs and the Growling Tigers, who sport 4-7 and 3-8 records, respectively, are in dire need of a win to keep within reach of the Falcons and the Tamaraws in the race for the last Final Four berth.