MANILA, Philippines – The league-leading FEU Tamaraws will try to be the first team to secure a place in the Final Four as they take on the still winless Adamson Falcons in the UAAP Season 77 tournament Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
FEU escaped with a slim victory over the University of the Philippines (UP) last weekend that allowed it to keep the top spot in the league standings with a 9-2 record.
Assistant coach Eric Gonzales, who is calling the shots in place of Nash Racela, hopes that their difficult game against UP serves as a wake-up call for the Tamaraws ahead of another potentially dangerous opponent in Adamson.
"Coming to Adamson, kapag hindi pa natuto 'yung mga players, ewan ko na lang," said Gonzales, who also admitted that the Tamaraws have a tendency to relax when playing lower-ranked teams.
Meanwhile, Adamson head coach Kenneth Duremdes has expressed his hope that FEU will also be "relaxed" in playing them as they were against UP.
The Falcons are riding a wave of confidence after fighting hard in their game against defending champion La Salle last weekend, losing by only nine points.
"Kahit talo kami, maganda 'yung nilaro namin compared noong sa first round. Talagang tambak kami noong first round, pero ngayon medyo dikit na," said Adamson forward Don Trollano, who scored a career-high 26 points against La Salle.
FEU will again rely on the pair of Mike Tolomia and Mac Belo to lead the charge, though players like Carl Cruz and Achie Inigo have stepped up in their previous games.
Duremdes, for his part, hopes to get an encore performance from Trollano after his 26-point, 11-rebound effort against La Salle.
Game time is at 4 p.m.
In the first game of the double-header, the Ateneo Blue Eagles try to remain within striking distance of the Tamaraws as they face the UP Fighting Maroons.
Ateneo is currently tied for second place with rivals La Salle as they have identical 8-3 win-loss records.
"I really believe that UP is a strong team," said Ateneo coach Bo Perasol. "In fact, in the first round, they matched up really well against us. We need to make sure that we can find a way how to stop their guards in creating, and their bigs from shooting outside."
The Maroons have only won one game so far this season – against Adamson at the end of the first round – and their goal of winning three games this season is now a "tall order," coach Rey Madrid said himself.
Madrid, however, insisted that his players remain up to the challenge.
Game time is at 2 p.m.