UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas seeks to extend its winning streak to three games as it clashes with La Salle today in the UAAP men's basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
After playing six matches in the past 18 days due to a compressed first round schedule, Growling Tigers coach Aldin Ayo welcomed the five-day respite to recharge and refocus for their 2 p.m. showdown with the Green Archers.
"First of all, we need this five-day break. Even the coaching staff. The players, of course, they have to recover," said Ayo after UST turned back Far Eastern University, 82-74, last Sunday.
With basketball out of their minds for at least a day earlier this week, the Tigers will enter their final first round assignment fresh, as the España-based crew hope to improve their 4-2 record, the third-best in the league.
UST is trying to elevate its game, especially on defense, which Ayo is counting on with his tried and tested "mayhem" system. Against the Tamaraws, the Tigers lost a 11-point lead before prevailing via late-game defensive stops.
"Well, it doesn’t stop. This is a tough competition. Kung ano binabato sa amin, kung ano binabato sa inyo, you have to adjust because you cannot rely on one game plan. The coaches are good. I have to commend the scouting coaches of FEU. They did a very good job. Nahirapan kami. So it doesn’t really stop," said Ayo.
"Every day you have to keep on improving and every game kailangan may bago kang hinahain sa mesa. Otherwise, mapapagiwanan ka," he added.
Ayo will face the Archers that he steered to a championship two years ago behind Ben Mbala.
The departure of Ayo late in 2017 affected La Salle's program, having missed the Final Four last year and is currently sitting in sixth place with a 2-4 card.
The Archers could have a better record if not for a couple of one-point defeats. La Salle lost to Rey Suerte-led University of the East, 88-89, and most recently, to University of the Philippines, 71-72, on Juan Gomez de Liaño's late three-pointer.
Adamson and FEU, with the No. 4 ranking at stake, collide in the day's other game at 4 p.m.
The Falcons are still looking for consistency after splitting the first six matches, while the Tamaraws are mired on a two-game slide for a 2-4 slate in fifth.