MANILA -- It's win-or-go home for defending champion Ateneo de Manila University and surging Adamson University on Wednesday.
The Blue Eagles and the Soaring Falcons ended the elimination round of UAAP Season 86 with identical 7-7 win-loss records, and will face off for the last spot in the Final 4 on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The winner will advance to play the top-seeded University of the Philippines, who is armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals.
Ateneo and Adamson split their elimination round encounters, but Nash Racela's Soaring Falcons appear to have the momentum heading into their must-win affair. This, as they won two consecutive do-or-die games to stay in the Final 4 hunt in the past week.
The Falcons stunned No. 3 National University, 68-62, before escaping with a thrilling 63-61 triumph over the University of the East last Sunday thanks to Mathew Montebon's game-winner.
Adamson finds itself in a similar situation last season, when they figured in a do-or-die clash against La Salle and eventually pulled off an 80-76 win. But Racela insists that the personnel he has is different this time around.
"Sino ba nandun last year? Sila Cedrick (Manzano), sila Didat (Hanapi), sila Vince (Magbuhos) no but not everyone. Sila Monty (Montebon) are new guys. They weren’t (part of the team) last year – sila Matty (Erolon), sila Eli (Ramos), so a lot of new guys also," said Racela.
"I think the biggest experience for our players is the games in the second round. You look at us, that’s when we grew," he added.
Meanwhile, Tab Baldwin is bracing for a tough game as Ateneo looks to extend its streak of eight consecutive Final 4 appearances -- the longest in the league. This is the first time that the Blue Eagles will figure in a playoff for the fourth spot.
"Adamson's really tough, we all know that. They're one of the tougher teams to contend with," said Baldwin after their 72-69 loss to La Salle that prevented them from clinching a Final 4 berth outright.
Ateneo last missed the Final 4 in 2013.
Tip-off is at 2:00 p.m.