by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. – FEU vs UP
4 p.m. – Ateneo vs NU
Ateneo tries to shift its focus back on the hardcourt despite being shadowed by controversy as the Eagles battle tournament co-leader National University Bulldogs today in UAAP Season 76 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Tied with University of Santo Tomas for fourth place at 7-5, the Blue Eagles hope to gain ground on the Growling Tigers in the race for the last Final Four berth in their crucial 4 p.m. encounter with the Bulldogs.
Far Eastern University seeks to close its elimination round assignment on a winning note against winless University of the Philippines at 2 p.m.
Ateneo’s 77-72 win over UE may go down the drain after UE asked the UAAP board to investigate the alleged presence of Ateneo coach Bo Perasol inside the Arena last Sunday.
Under UAAP rules, a suspended player or coach must not be inside the playing arena or near its vicinity for the duration of the suspension.
Parasol reportedly was inside the Ateneo dugout during the team’s game against UE.
Furious over UE’s action, Ateneo countered by filing its own complaint, arguing the cameo role of UE’s suspended player Ralf Olivares despite a two-game suspension for elbowing a pair of National University cagers almost two weeks ago.
This marks the first time this rule was cited to force forfeiture although in the past the rule was “violated” with impunity.
Several suspended players like Olivares, teammate Lord Casajeros and even FEU’s RR Garcia were previously seen watching their respective teams play while serving suspensions. But no school made an issue of this.
As controversies refuse to end in a season dubbed as “Greatness Never Ends”, today’s matches will have Final Four implications.
NU and FEU, locked in a tie with La Salle for the lead at 9-4, need to win their respective games in hopes of eventually securing the top spot in the Final Four.
The Bulldogs saw their six-game winning run end with a 57-55 loss to the Green Archers, and coach Eric Altamirano wants a win over the Eagles secure the twice-to-beat advantage.
Ateneo, on the other hand, must beat NU to keep its Final Four hopes alive although a loss would still keep it in the running. Even if UST prevails over La Salle, it must beat Ateneo on the final day of elimination to secure the semis berth. A loss to Ateneo will result in a playoff for the fourth and final berth.