UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas coach Aldin Ayo expects the Maroons of Katipunan to make the necessary adjustments in their do-do-die match today.
“They’re going to adjust. I think they’re going to be physical. Sa akin, kapag mga do-or-die game, nangyayari iyon – doing whatever it takes. But knowing them, wala namang madumi maglaro doon,” said Ayo.
“Kung ano man iyong physicality, I think it will be part of basketball. So, it will be tough for us because they’re going to adjust. Now, depende lang kung paano kami magco-counter,” he added.
The fourth-ranked Growling Tigers, who have beaten University of Philippines thrice so far this year, tackle the No. 2 Fighting Maroons anew in a knockout duel in the stepladder semifinals for a finals slot in the 82nd UAAP basketball tournament before an expected SRO crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The no-tomorrow game is set at 4 p.m., with the winner forging a best-of-3 titular showdown with defending two-time champion and unbeaten Ateneo.
UST is bidding to advance to the Big Dance for the first time in four years and win its first crown after 13 years while UP is trying to return to the finals and end a 33-year title drought.
Game 1 of the finals will be played on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tigers whipped the Maroons 89-69 last Sunday that negated UP’s twice-to-beat advantage in the semis. UST also drubbed UP 85-69 in their first meeting last Sept. 7 before scoring an 84-78 win in the second round last Oct. 16.
Foremost among those expected to lead the Tigers’ attack are MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo, Rhenz Abando, Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy, Renzo Subido, Shwerwin Concepcion, CJ Cansino, and Brent Paraiso.
UP coach Bo Perasol is convinced charges can still hack it but to do so, they need to play better.
“The silver-lining is we put ourselves in the situation that we have another chance, and that chance is going to be the last one for us,” said Perasol. “If we want to be given the chance to be in the finals again, we really have to play better.”
Forward Kobe Paras, who is playing through a nagging right shoulder injury; 6-foot-8 Nigerian slotman Bright Akhuetie, brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño, and Ricci Rivero will be counted by the Maroons to deliver.