The UP Fighting Maroons have sealed their place in the Final Four as they defeated the DLSU Green Archers, 71-68, on Saturday afternoon at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
After trailing by four points in less than two minutes to go, UP came up big on both ends down the stretch — including a one-handed dunk by Kobe Paras via a backdoor play that gave them the lead for good.
La Salle missed its chance to tie or to retake the lead when Aljun Melecio came up short with his three-point attempt and Encho Serrano missed wildly on his transition floater.
“There were ups and downs when we were playing but the Lord has sustained us. How could we disappoint our community who came here in throngs, kept on supporting us all through the season?” said Perasol postgame.
“I mentioned to the guys that we were not just fighting for the position but we were fighting for our survival as well. The character of our team showed now and that is [very] important,” he added.
The victory ensured the Diliman-based squad the second seed in the standings, giving them a twice-to-beat advantage. At the same time, they have eliminated La Salle from the Final Four contention as well.
Even with the Final Four cast all set, there are still some things left for consideration.
UP’s final elimination will be against the undefeated Ateneo Blue Eagles, who will go straight to the finals should they win their 14th straight. That will force a stepladder format where the Fighting Maroons will hold a twice-to-beat advantage against the winner between FEU and UST.
A victory by UP, however, will set up the Final Four duels between Ateneo-UST and UP-FEU.