MANILA, Philippines -- De La Salle University and Adamson University seek crucial wins against different opponents, as the elimination round of UAAP Season 85 wraps up on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
La Salle (6-7) will take on the University of Santo Tomas (1-12) at 2 p.m., with the Green Archers needing a win against the already-eliminated Growling Tigers just to stay alive in the race for the last Final 4 spot.
The Green Archers found themselves in a must-win situation after suffering a shock 80-72 overtime loss to the University of the East on Wednesday.
They will be challenged by a UST team that has nothing to lose, with top star Nic Cabañero looking to return for their final elimination round game after sitting out against Far Eastern University, also last Wednesday.
"Next game, gusto ko pa rin manalo for us and for me, great exit para sa amin kasi ito yung magboost sa confidence namin sa upcoming season," said Cabañero, who rested a sprained right ankle.
However, even a win against UST does not assure La Salle of a Final 4 berth.
If Adamson (7-6) defeats Ateneo de Manila University (10-3) in the last elimination round game at 4 p.m., the Soaring Falcons will secure the last spot in the semifinals.
This is the exact scenario that Adamson coach Nash Racela is pushing for, as the Soaring Falcons eye a fourth straight win.
"A lot of people are counting us out already, because they want La Salle to make it to the Final 4. I don't know, maybe they're anticipating Ateneo No. 1 and La Salle No. 4 for the semis. I know how people think. We want to counter that. That's actually our goal. Expectation and reality are always different, so yeah, we'll try our best," said Racela.
Set to lead the way for the Soaring Falcons is star guard Jerom Lastimosa, who is determined to power Adamson to a first Final 4 appearance since 2018.
"We still have a chance na makapasok sa Final 4, kasi kung titingnan mo lang sa four games namin, talagang ang ganda ng nilaro namin sa last four games namin," said Lastimosa. "So one game at a time, and one more na lang, one more push just to make it to the Final 4."
Should the Soaring Falcons lose to the Blue Eagles and the Green Archers beat the Growling Tigers, there will be a playoff for the last spot in the Final 4 as both Adamson and La Salle will finish with 7-7 win-loss records.
UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.