MANILA, Philippines -- A determined Adamson University squad will be out to stop Ateneo de Manila University's march to a sixth straight Finals appearance on Wednesday, when they face off in the UAAP Season 85 Final 4.
The Soaring Falcons have momentum on their side after their stunning victory over De La Salle University in their knockout game for the fourth seed, wherein they overhauled a 13-point deficit and out-played the Green Archers in crunch time.
But the Blue Eagles have the benefit of rest and a longer preparation time, having last played on November 30 when they held off the Falcons, 66-61, to secure the No. 1 seed in the Final 4.
Ateneo will thus have a twice-to-beat advantage in their match-up, and a win will send the Blue Eagles to the best-of-3 championship series for the sixth season in a row.
"We know how tough they are as a team. But again, you know, nothing is impossible in this world," Adamson coach Nash Racela said of their chances. "We look at our run, a month ago, we were down, diba?"
"All of a sudden we made a run which surprised a lot of people, [and] that's why we're now in the Final Four," he added. "So we have that mentality that you know, walang impossible."
Ateneo won both of their elimination round encounters, but had to dig deep in order to fend off the Falcons in the second round. Their first meeting was a comfortable 76-55 triumph for the Blue Eagles.
But the cagers from Katipunan are anticipating a tougher game in the semifinals, especially against an inspired Adamson squad that is making its first Final 4 appearance since 2018.
"We all know that entering the Final 4, it's a whole new ball game. We're gonna make sure that we don't relax or let our guard down," said assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
Adamson's Jerom Lastimosa will be a marked man for the Blue Eagles, after the star point guard keyed the Falcons' turnaround against La Salle last Sunday. Ateneo will also be worried about AP Manlapaz, who burned them for 22 points in just 17 minutes when they last played.
The Blue Eagles will rely on their veteran core anchored by Ange Kouame, who had a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds against the Falcons in their last game. Filipino-American forward Kai Ballungay also torched the Falcons for 18 points on top of 14 rebounds.
Game time is at 6:00 p.m. at the Araneta Coliseum.
A victory by Adamson will send the semis match-up into a do-or-die affair on Sunday, December 11 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.