MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines' (UP) title defense in UAAP Season 85 gets off to a tough start on Saturday, when they take on De La Salle University at Mall of Asia Arena.
It will be a rematch of last season's Final 4 showdown, which saw the Fighting Maroons overhaul a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to break the Green Archers' hearts in a do-or-die game.
La Salle was well in control of the game but surrendered a 22-4 closing run to the Fighting Maroons, with Carl Tamayo proving unstoppable down the stretch. UP snatched a 78-74 win and went on to win the UAAP championship for the first time in 36 years.
That loss remains a motivation for the Green Archers entering Season 85.
"Every time time we have bad practices, every time we don't wanna practice, coach says na we were like three minutes, 30 seconds away from getting to the finals," said La Salle point guard Evan Nelle. "So that really hurts and that motivates us."
For the Fighting Maroons, the focus is simply to take games one at a time in their bid for a second consecutive crown.
"Right now, we're preparing for them, and La Salle is a very good team. Ganoon naman kami, every time we go to a season, we just take it as anong dumating and face the challenge," said UP coach Goldwin Monteverde.
Highlighting the game is the match-up between longtime high school teammates Carl Tamayo of UP and Kevin Quiambao of La Salle, who were multiple-time champions in the juniors division with the Nazareth School of National University.
It will also feature the debut of UP's key recruit, Henry Galinato.
Tip off is at 4 p.m.
Opening the day's double-header for men's basketball is a match-up between Season 85 host Adamson University and the University of Santo Tomas.
The Soaring Falcons are aiming for a bright start to their campaign after just missing the Final 4 in Season 84. However, head coach Nash Racela is wary of the Growling Tigers, admitting that they know little about the much-changed UST squad.
"We don't have an idea of how they'll play under [new] coach Bal David," he explained. "We're coming in blind."
David was not present during Wednesday's press conference, but assistant coach Rodney Santos said they will simply put their best foot forward against Adamson.
"We should expect more [from Adamson]," he said. "We'll just try our best to win this Saturday."
Tip off between UST and Adamson is at 2 p.m., following the pre-recorded opening ceremonies of Season 85.
Action in UAAP Season 85 will start at 8 a.m. at the MOA Arena when the women's basketball tournament tips off with a game between Adamson and UST, followed by the 10 a.m. showdown between UP and La Salle.
This will be the return of the UAAP women's basketball tournament after the event wasn't held in Season 84 due to the pandemic restrictions.
Catch replays of UAAP Season 84 games via the UAAP Varsity channel on iWantTFC, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.