ONE of them will end a long and agonizing wait to make it to the finals when University of the Philippines and Adamson clash in a door-die game today in the UAAP men’s basketball Final Four at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Fighting Maroons last made it to the title round way back in 1986, winning their lone post-war championship, while the Falcons’ previous Finals appearance was in 1992.
The winner of the 3:30 p.m. match will advance to the best-of-three championship series against defending champion Ateneo starting on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Making the most out of its first Final Four appearance in 21 years, third-ranked UP dragged twice-to-beat Adamson to a Final Four decider with a 73-71 win courtesy of Bright Akhuetie’s last-gasp lay-up.
Coach Franz Pumaren is simply moving forward from the result, as the Falcons are hoping to rediscover the form that won their head-to-head eliminations match-up against the Maroons.
“Both teams are gunning for history, us making the Finals, same thing with UP. It’s gonna be a fun game. It’s gonna be a classic game,” said Pumaren.
The only thing that is going for Adamson is that it has another chance of progressing in the league’s biggest stage.
“That’s why during the whole season, we worked hard for (the twice-to-beat advantage). You know, we lost this game, but if you look at the other side of the coin, there’s still one more game,” said Pumaren.
Luck has not been on the Falcons’ side, however, when it comes to the post-season.
Aside from going 0-7 in Final Four matches since 2006, Adamson has actually lost its last 11 post-elimination round games, with its last victory coming against University of the East in Game 2 of the 1978 championship series.
Probably, the last time the Maroons was so giddy of getting this far was in 1986 - not even in 1997 when the Diliman-based cagers last entered the semifinals. In fact, as early as Monday tickets for the do-or-die match in the UP side are hard to get.
With all the hoopla about the no-tomorrow game, coach Bo Perasol is simply focusing on the task at hand and make the Maroons proud again.
“We can’t really overthink about the other factors beside just playing the game,” said Perasol, who turned UP around from a perennial also-rans to a Final Four contender.
“It’s important to get our minds ready for the battle. Both teams will have tremendous crowd support,” he added.