STAKES HIGH FOR HIGH-FLYING EAGLES

MANILA, September 13, 2003 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Beat Ateneo then hope for the best.

With this in mind, the La Salle Green Archers face the Ateneo Blue Eagles this afternoon in a game that could well decide the top positioning heading into the Final Four of the 66th UAAP basketball season.

Another mammoth crowd is expected at the Araneta Coliseum to witness the 4 p.m. encounter, the second between the two schools this year and, as a lot of people are hoping, won’t be the last.

Ateneo won the first meeting on Aug. 9, 82-68, as part of its amazing eight-game winning streak that ended with a stunning loss to National University midway in the second round.

With a 10-3 record, the Blue Eagles of coach Joel Banal are hoping to close their elims schedule on a high note. A victory over the Green Archers will assure them of the No. 1 spot and a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four, regardless of the final standings.

Due to a better quotient, Ateneo will land on top even if it falls into a three-way tie with FEU and UE at 11-3. The Tamaraws and the Warriors will then dispute the second spot in a one-game playoff.

In case Ateneo loses, FEU and UE will get the chance to land in the top two. The Tamaraws are sporting a 10-3 slate in a tie with the Blue Eagles while the Warriors are running third at 9-3 with two more games left against Adamson and La Salle.

For the Green Archers, also assured of a Final Four slot with its 7-5 record, today’s game will be just as important in that they can avenge the first-round loss to the Blue Eagles and gain all the momentum they’d need whoever they meet later on in the semis.

Before the season started, coach Franz Pumaren said that reaching the Final Four will be quite an achievement for his rookie-laden team.

A win will also enable the Green Archers to fully restore their confidence after losing two straight games to NU and UP. They defeated Adamson earlier this week, but will certainly feel more comfortable with another win over the Blue Eagles.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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