MANILA, Philippines—University of Santo Tomas faces an uphill battle when it plays University of the Philippines in the second round of the UAAP Season 82 stepladder semifinals.
The fourth-seeded Growling Tigers took care of business against No. 3 Far Eastern University, riding a hot start to claim an 81-71 triumph in their knockout game on Wednesday.
On Sunday, however, they will be up against a UP team that is armed with a twice-to-beat advantage after finishing second in the elimination round.
"Right now, we don't have any idea kung ano gagawin namin sa UP," UST head coach Aldin Ayo said, moments after their win over the Tamaraws. "But after this after our dinner, we're going to start on preparing for UP."
The good news for UST is that it owns two victories over the Fighting Maroons this season. The Tigers routed UP in their first round encounter, 85-69, and hacked out an 84-78 win in their rematch.
Ayo is the first to downplay those results, however.
"Some of you will say that we are 2-0 against UP, but they are a different team right now," he said.
"'Yung mga nangyari doon sa elimination, it won't matter anymore because they're a different team."
Kobe Paras, who is set to be named to the Mythical Team, did not play in their first round game. UST's Rhenz Abando, meanwhile, was benched for their second round encounter.
Both teams will enter the stepladder match at full power, with UST boasting of the MVP in Soulemane Chabi Yo and the Rookie of the Year in Mark Nonoy.
UP will still have last season's MVP in Bright Akhuetie, a former Rookie of the Year in Juan Gomez de Liaño, and Paras.
"This is final 4. So lahat gagawin dito," said Ayo. "Kung ano man ang dapat nilang gawin, of course they're going to do that."
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