UAAP: One last dance

UAAP: One last dance

UP, DLSU battle in Game 3 of S86 basketball finals

A FIRST-EVER date now needs one last dance.

University of the Philippines  (UP) and De La Salle University (DLSU) go at it once and for all to settle their first finals encounter in the winner-take-all Game 3 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 86 (S86) men’s basketball finals today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The stage is set at 6 p.m. for the ultimate waltz after the  UP Fighting Maroons and the DLSU Green Archers tangoed in the first two games of the quick best-of-three finale with statement victories of their own.

At 12 p.m., dynasty or destiny is the theme of the game as seven-peat champion National University and challenger University of Santo Tomas, bidding for first title since 2006, also clash for all the marbles of women’s basketball.

The Lady Bulldogs, undisputed UAAP queens since 2014, escaped with a 72-70 win in Game 2 to force a rubber match after the Growling Tigresses’ historic 76-72 Game 1 win to snap a 20-game, 11-year losing skid against the reigning champions. But if both games went down the wire in the women’s kingdom, it’s been a complete opposite in the men’s realm.

A bloodbath it was for Diliman and Taft, taking turns in wreaking havoc against each other in what now promises an all-our war for the final act.

“Whatever pressure is involved there, we should take it like men to overcome it,” said coach Goldwin Monteverde, entering his third straight Game 3 in as many finals appearances with the Fighting Maroons.

UP, drawing strength from the tremendous feat of dethroning Ateneo and snapping its sixth straight finals appearance, dealt the first blow on De La Salle with an emphatic 97-67 win in Game 1.

That was the most lopsided finals opener victory in the Final Four era.

On cue, De La Salle was quick to exact payback by handing UP its biggest loss this season and in the Monteverde era, 82-60, in Game 2 to drag the series to win-or-go-home setto — even with Most Valuable Player Kevin Quiambao coming off the bench.

“It’s gonna be hard. Winning a championship is hard against the top college team in the country right now,” warned first-year coach Topex Robinson.

“Come game 3, there’s going to be a lot of work in and we know UP is going to come out with guns blazing.”

The Green Archers are aspiring to end a seven-year title drought for its 10th crown while the Fighting Maroons are bidding for their second championship in the last three seasons and third overall.

At the buzzer, ony one dream will be realized. — John Bryan Ulanday