MANILA, Philippines -- Ateneo de Manila University will have victory on its mind when it takes on Adamson University in their final elimination round game of UAAP Season 85 on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Head coach Tab Baldwin guaranteed that his team will be gunning for a triumph even if they are already assured of a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final 4.
"Play to win," said Baldwin of their mindset against Adamson. "There's only one way to play the game of basketball. Play to win."
A win by the Blue Eagles (10-3) will give them the No. 1 seed in the Final 4. It's a scenario that, Baldwin noted, appeared improbable earlier in the season, when Ateneo dropped games to the University of the Philippines (UP), De La Salle University, and National University (NU).
But Ateneo has won five straight games in the homestretch of the elimination round, highlighted by a 75-67 triumph over the Fighting Maroons last Saturday.
"Adamson on Wednesday is a huge affair. It allows us to finish top of the table, and I don't think many people would have expected that at the beginning or in the middle of the season," said Baldwin.
The game is arguably more crucial for the Soaring Falcons, who will enter the match with a 7-6 win-loss slate. Should La Salle win their game against University of Santo Tomas earlier in the day, Adamson will have to beat Ateneo in order to secure a Final 4 berth.
If La Salle wins and the Soaring Falcons lose, they will be tied at 7-7 and play in a knockout game for the last spot in the Final 4.
For Baldwin, these scenarios are out of their mind at the moment as they focus on Ateneo's final assignment of the elimination round.
"Standings are what they are. It's been a crazy season, and I think that's the kind of season that people like. It's unpredictable and it's fun," he said. "So you just don't know."
UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.