The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons and the De La Salle University Green Archers face off on Wednesday night for all the marbles as they duke it out in the winner-take-all Game 3 of the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The men in green seized the momentum in Game 2 as they gave the Fighting Maroons a taste of their own medicine, routing their foes, 82-60, to tie the best-of-three affair at 1-1. It was an emphatic win, and De La Salle’s biggest championship series win since a 72-47 dismantling of Far Eastern University in Game 1 in October 1998.
The decider is at 6 p.m., before an expected SRO crowd at the historic Big Dome.
UP is 1-1 in Game 3s, as the Diliman-based squad ended its 36-year title drought in the Season 84 bubble by dethroning Ateneo in overtime on a JD Cagulangan game-winning triple in May last year. The Fighting Maroons’ reign, however, was short-lived as the Blue Eagles won Game 3 to reclaim the throne last December.
UP coach Goldwin Monteverde is setting aside the Game 2 loss, as he is looking forward to the chance to redeem themselves from the Season 85 championship loss.
“Well, it is what it is, whatever happens today. We’re not gonna make any reasons whatever the turnout, rather we’re gonna look inside us, and how we can respond. What’s important is that there’s Game 3, and that’s our chance right there,” said Monteverde.
This will be the ninth Game 3 of La Salle in the Final Four era - the most by any team in the league. The Green Archers are 3-5 all-time, as their most recent Finals decider appearance ended in a loss to the Blue Eagles, 86-88, in 2017.
Gunning for his first collegiate coaching title, De La Salle mentor Topex Robinson is bracing for what UP will throw at them in the finale.
“We know that it’s gonna be hard. Winning a championship is gonna be hard. Playing against the top college team in the country right now is gonna be hard. But sa amin, at the moment, we just keep on enjoying that game, the game that we love, the game that has been good to us, and not shy away from the responsibility of the result of the ball game,” said Robinson. / JNP