MANILA, Philippines – For the second time in the last three seasons, Katipunan neighbors Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines will battle for the UAAP men's basketball championship.
Tip-off is at 4:00 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena, which has served as the UAAP's home for Season 84.
The top-seeded Blue Eagles marched into the best-of-3 UAAP Season 84 Finals after ousting Far Eastern University in the Final 4, the fifth season in a row that they will be competing for the title.
It was a relatively straightforward win for the three-time defending champions, who pulled away in the second quarter to break the game open and eliminate the Tamaraws from contention.
In contrast, the Fighting Maroons endured a rollercoaster of a series in the Final 4 against De La Salle University. They lost their first game last Wednesday and were on the brink of elimination after staring at a 14-point deficit midway through the final quarter of Friday's do-or-die game.
But rookie ace Carl Tamayo showed his worth in the clutch, taking charge for the Fighting Maroons and scoring their last nine points -- including the go-ahead three-point play with 22 seconds left.
The heart-stopping 78-74 win over the Green Archers sent UP to the Finals for the second time in the past three seasons. They also reached the championship round in Season 81, where they were swept in two games by the Blue Eagles.
This time, UP has reason to believe they can end the Ateneo dynasty. They ended the Blue Eagles' 39-game winning streak in the elimination round, holding on for an 84-83 victory to deny Ateneo a sweep and an outright Finals berth.
The Fighting Maroons will have momentum thanks to their elimination round win as well as their thrilling comeback against La Salle, but the Blue Eagles will have the benefit of a longer time to rest and prepare.