MANILA -- National University's bid for an eighth consecutive UAAP women's basketball championship shifts into high gear on Wednesday, when they take on Ateneo de Manila University in the Season 86 Final 4.
The Lady Bulldogs have a twice-to-beat advantage over the Blue Eagles, and have also won both of their games against the Katipunan-based cagers in the elimination round. Moreover, they have won 11 straight games since a loss to the University of the Philippines in the first round.
But NU head coach Aris Dimaunahan remains wary of the Blue Eagles, particularly their star big in Kacey dela Rosa.
"I've said this, and I'll say it again: Kacey Dela Rosa is probably our MVP this year. It will be a big challenge for the entire NU team to limit her in our face-off in the Final Four and also Jhazmin Joson," said Dimaunahan.
"Jhazmin Joson is their heart and soul (and) she’s playing at a high level right now together with Sarah Makanjuola and Junize Calago. We really have to be prepared for our next game against them," he stressed.
Tip off is at 9:00 a.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena, in what will be a rematch of last year's Final 4.
Ateneo coach LA Mumar is not lacking in confidence even with the Blue Eagles having lost back-to-back games heading into the semifinals.
"Ang kalaban talaga namin is us. I feel that we can beat the top teams if we play our game," he said.
Meanwhile at 11:00 a.m., it will be the University of Santo Tomas against the University of the Philippines, with the Growling Tigresses owning a twice-to-beat advantage.
The two squads split their elimination round encounters, with UP stunning UST in the first round in overtime, 73-69, before the cagers from España recovered with a 74-72 triumph in round 2.
"We'll prepare for UP on Wednesday. We’ll go back to the drawing board and prepare for UP," UST coach Haydee Ong assured.
UST is seeking to return to the Finals, having last made it in Season 82 where they were swept by National U.