MANILA, September 26, 2005 
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - It’s La Salle against FEU for this year’s UAAP crown.

In a pair of Final Four matchups that hardly provided the excitement, La Salle and FEU whipped their respective foes yesterday to set up a repeat of their 2004 title showdown.

La Salle, the defending champion, reaffirmed its mastery of fierce rival Ateneo with a 74-57 victory while FEU had a virtual workout in a 78-57 win over UE at the Araneta Coliseum.

La Salle’s victory, fashioned out before a huge crowd, was the third in as many meetings with Ateneo this year. FEU’s win, on the other hand, was the second in three clashes with UE.

Game One of the best-of-three finals is set Thursday, also at the Big Dome.

La Salle coach Franz Pumaren said he was just glad to be back in the finals after saying before the season started that his team shouldn’t be considered a title contender.

"At the start of the season I don’t think anybody rated La Salle. And during the season we were running fourth or fifth but we’re peaking at the right time," he said.

"But I’ve been dreaming that we’d be back in the finals. Now it’s a reality. One more step and hopefully we can defend the crown. I think my players are in great shape at this time," he added.

"This is it.... a replay of last year’s finals," said FEU coach Bert Flores who had the luxury of shuffling his players and trying out different combinations during the one-sided contest.

Pumaren is eyeing his sixth crown in eight seasons as La Salle coach while Flores is gunning for his first. He’s a rookie coach in the UAAP, taking over Koy Banal before the season started.

Flores said the Tamaraws came prepared for the Warriors’ choking full-court press, which mirrors that of the Green Archers.

"Pinag-handaan namin ‘yung pressure defense nila kaya na-break namin. Preparation na din ito for La Salle pareho kasi sila ng sistema," said Flores.

Behind Joseph Yeo, the Green Archers broke the game open in the third quarter, silencing the Ateneo crowd that had hoped for a big win against the twice-to-beat La Salle.

But the Blue Eagles under coach Norman Black failed to rise to

the occasion. LA Tenorio gave his best in his final UAAP game but sat out the last five minutes of the game due to cramps.

"He scored 15 points in the first half but I didn’t think he could sustain it. He was so aggressive in the first half. The juice dried up on LA," observed Pumaren.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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