UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas and University of the Philippines, coming off thrilling overtime victories over the weekend, try to keep defending champion Ateneo within range as they play separate foes today in the UAAP men's basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Growling Tigers play unpredictable Adamson at 12:30 p.m., while the Fighting Maroons go up against hard-luck National University in the 10:30 a.m. curtain-raiser.
Struggling squads La Salle and Far Eastern University collide to cap another Wednesday tripleheader at 4 p.m.
UST presently sits in second place with a 3-1 record, while UP sports a 2-1 card in third spot.
The powerhouse Blue Eagles are lording it over the standings with a 4-0 mark.
Coach Aldin Ayo knows that his Tigers need to elevate their game against the Falcons after surviving the Bulldogs, 87-74, in overtime last Sunday.
"Nasa learning process pa kami. Kailangan pa namin matuto nang matuto eh. Against Adamson? Ang una muna naming iisipin kung paano maka- recover yung mga katawan ng mga bata kasi two days lang," said Ayo.
"(Soulamane) Chabi (Yo) played 39 minutes tapos si Mark (Nonoy) nag cramps pa. So yung priority namin ngayon is how to, pano maka-recover yung mga players namin physically," he added.
Then of course, their preparation against the Falcons, who suffered a huge meltdown in last Sunday's 82-83 overtime loss to the Maroons, as the San Marcelino-based squad squandered a huge 18-point lead in the second half and a seven-point advantage late in the extension period.
The Bulldogs are no doubt the league's heartbreak kids this season.
After losing a couple of one-point games, NU had a chance for a breakthrough after taking a five-point lead with under a minute left, but UST was able to force extra five minutes with its tough defense and eventually lost its third consecutive game.
"I had to go to NU’s dugout earlier on before the game. I had to console my brother Jamike (Jarin). Just make sure. I told him to just move on, go on. It happens. You know how strong they are in those three games. They could have easily been 3-0 right now," said UP mentor Bo Perasol.
"But like us, they’re trying to build their character. So they’re a very dangerous team. They're a very well-coached team. It's just that they haven't had the luck in the last 3 games that they had," he added.
The Maroons are now in full strength, with highly-regarded newcomer Kobe Paras producing a scintalling performance last Sunday with 20 points.
The Tamaraws and the Green Archers are at the lower half of the standings with identical 1-2 slates, as the two teams are still looking for the right combinations to contend with.
FEU seeks to rebound from 46-63 loss to Ateneo last Saturday, the same day that La Salle suffered a shock 88-89 defeat from the hands of University of the East.