After 14 games of hostilities in the UAAP basketball tournament eliminations and a pair of thrilling encounter in the semifinals, it has come down to two of the top teams this season.
University of Santo Tomas, Far Eastern University – battling it out for all the marbles in the country’s most popular collegiate league.
Fitting as it may seem, the Tamaraws and the Tigers are two of the winningest ball clubs in the league. The men from Morayta hold a record of 19 titles, something that the cagers from Espana would attain to tie with a victory.
Not only are they the teams with the most titles, they also ended the tournament on top, finishing first and second, setting up a thrilling encounter that was 36 years in the making.
Who’s ahead in what could be an epic finals showdown between the Tams and the Tigers? Let’s take a look.
Why UST would win
In both of their encounters in the eliminations, the Tigers emerged victorious.
Proving that their first win behind Ed Daquioag’s heroics was no fluke, the boys of coach Bong dela Cruz stormed back from a double-digit deficit in the second round to prove that they indeed have FEU’s number.
Psychologically – whether both teams admit it or not – that has to play out in some way in this game.
Manpower wise, they won’t be having the same type of advantage they had against National University, but it’s still a luxury to have big time players like Kevin Ferrer, Karim Abdul, and Ed Daquioag on your squad with the championship on the line.
Also there’s this guy named Louie Vigil who’s eager to put his name on the higher echelon of the people who donned the gold and black and against NU, he definitely showed it.
Why FEU would win
To put things into perspective, they were a stop or two away from winning their first encounter against the Tigers. They also built a big lead in the second game proving that if they are on point, they’re leveled or atleast slight better than these Tigers.
In terms of firepower, they’re the only team who can match with UST blow by blow. And while these Tigers have suffered enough heartbreaks in the apst few years, the Tamaraws were one win away from winning a title last year and mentally, that could be an added motivation for the boys of Nash Racela.
Playing like the Thomasians’ answered prayer, Vigil showed that he can carry the bulk of their offense despite playing with stars like Ferrer and Daquioag.
If there’s one thing that we’ve learned from the NU game, it’s the fact that UST can still win despite their big three of Ferrer, Daquioag and Abdul struggling and Vigil had a lot to do with that.
A consistent Vigil in this series would be a major headache for coach Nash Racela.
Remember when they eliminated La Salle with guys like Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, Russel Escoto, and Achie Inigo on the bench?
If there’s an advantage FEU has in this series, it’s depth. All season long, Racela has done a great job in giving his bench players decent exposure while not compromising the quality of his rotation.
This should pay dividends in this series as it will keep the Tams’ big guns fresh legs heading into the crucial stretches of the game(s).
Tough. Tough. Tough. FE…. UST. Three games. Just for the sole reason that they’ve been the more consistent squad all throughout.
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