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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Archers vow to give Maroons good fight in UAAP cage finals

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The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons will carry with them the experience of three finals’ appearances when they meet the La Salle Green Archers in Game 1 of the 86th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament.

The Green Archers will be back after six years in a finals’ scenario featuring two teams which have not been together in a championship setting before.

“We have an opportunity now, and that’s why we want to make sure that we will take care of that opportunity and not just roll down and just die swinging. We’re just gonna give a good fight against UP,” said La Salle coach Topex Robinson, who steered Lyceum of the Philippines to back-to-back finals appearances in NCAA Seasons 93 and 94 (2017 and 2018).

With the two squads getting together in unchartered waters, the one which pulls through with the challenges in their 6 p.m. clash at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday will gain the momentum to possibly win their best-of-three finals series in their encounter on Dec. 6.

UP will sport a five-game winning streak — including a 57-46 romp of defending champion Ateneo last Saturday to advance to the finals.

Meanwhile, La Salle has yet to taste defeat since a 67-64 loss to UP, riding a season-high nine-game winning streak — capped by a masterful 97-73 rout of National U also last Saturday.

“For us, it’s a matter of taking advantage of what we built through the years. ‘Yung pagpiga namin sa kakayahan ng team. Coach Gold (Goldwin Monteverde) says it’s always a process. It’s never about the result,” said UP’s assistant coach Christian Luanzon.

For the Maroons, they will be bracing themselves for a new championship environment, after having made it to the finals since 2021 when they took their second crown in 35 years with an overtime win over the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 72-69.

The Fighting Maroons also went to the finals with the Blue Eagles in 2018, but were swept by Ateneo back then in their title showdown.

La Salle has confronted different challengers outside of UP in past championships, after 16 past finals appearances.

The Fighting Maroons have been in four finals; stints, three of them against the Blue Eagles.

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