Unforgettable, and most certainly vital.
The University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Men’s Basketball Tournament Finals begins on Saturday, December 1, at the Mall of Asia Arena. The defending champions Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles try to retain their crown against the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons.
If UP wins, an ‘Ode to the Underdog’ seems interesting to write. But simply looking at the statistical charts, it’s easy to assume that what ADMU needs to do to retain the championship is to just show up; Coach Tab Baldwin wasn’t kidding when he stated before the start of the season that Ateneo has a wealth of talent.
In battling the Blue Eagles, you only get to choose your poison: Get beaten inside by Ange Kouame or by a barrage of threes. ADMU has so many three-point artists, some of them even clutch shooters. Speaking of which, here is a short list of clutch three-point shots from this season and the one before:
UP had a foul to give in regulation period of this do-or-die game but Lastimosa got away with a three-point shot with about 2.7 seconds remaining. Although Adamson University went on to lose the game in overtime, fans will cherish the highlight clip for the longest time.
Last season, Tolentino fumbled the ball and lost it in regulation period and then the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws went on to lose a do-or-die game against ADMU that would have put them in the Finals. After the game, Tolentino was shown sitting down at the sidelines with his shirt in his mouth. Although FEU fell short of the Finals again this season, some vindication was earned by Tolentino when he shot a clutch three to put an end to De La Salle University’s hopes of entering the Final Four.
He made two clutch triples last season, the first in a Season ’80 opening game against the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers, and then he did it again against FEU. This season, Desiderio has given up some of the scoring cudgels to Juan Gomez de Liaño and import Bright Akhuetie, the MVP who often takes the last shot.
In Game 3 of last season’s Finals, no less than this burly center drilled a clutch three from the wing to give Ateneo a more comfortable lead and to help his team clinch the crown.
As deadly as his teammate from beyond the arc, Nieto also had a clutch-three highlight against FEU last season. Will he have another one this season? We have the UP-ADMU Finals to watch and see.
Featured image from Jerom Lastimosa Facebook profile.
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