UP, Ateneo clash in UAAP Finals opener Saturday

By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno

December 1, 2018, 12:08 pm

MANILA -- The University of the Philippines aims to complete a Cinderella finish as it battles Ateneo in Game 1 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men's basketball finals at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Saturday. 

The 3:30 p.m. game opens a best-of-three series for all the marbles.

The Fighting Maroons are making the UAAP finals for the first time since winning the championship against the University of the East Red Warriors in 1986, while the Blue Eagles are gunning for their second straight title.

While Ateneo is the heavy favorite in the series, UP's Cinderella run ought not to be overlooked.

The Fighting Maroons, despite the arrival of Bright Akhuetie, stumbled to a 1-3 start, putting them in early danger of missing the Final Four.

However, they won seven of their last 10 elimination games, including five of their last six, with Juan Gomez de Liano playing off the bench to breach to the Final Four outright for the first time since 1997.

They then defied the Adamson Soaring Falcons' twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four and clinched a date with the Blue Eagles, which wasted no time in eliminating the FEU Tamaraws in their own semifinal affair, in the championship round. (PNA)