The Ateneo Blue Eagles dethroned the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws after squeaking past them in overtime, 69-68, to set up the dream Finals with archrival, the La Salle Green Archers, at the men’s senior basketball tournament of UAAP 79.
It was a see-saw battle as both teams exchanged more than a dozen leads and broke more than five deadlocks during the game at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Wednesday November 30.
Isaac Go won it for the Eagles who almost suffered what would have been a heartbreaking loss to the Tamaraws for the second straight year had Monbert Arong’s lay-up been counted as time expired.
In the 2015 semifinals’ encounter between the two teams, it was Mac Belo who broke the Eagles’ hearts as he scored the winning shot for the Tamaraws that sent them to the Finals against the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers whom they defeated for the championship.
In a live broadcast of the post-game interview, Ateneo Coach Tab Baldwin described his Eagles and the Tamaraws as “two tough defensive teams”.
When asked what separated the two, Baldwin said: “It was the half a second shot that came too late”.
Baldwin also lauded his FEU counterpart Nash Racela for being a “class person and an outstanding coach”.
“My heart goes out to Coach Nash. He is a class person and outstanding coach. Anybody who says anything should shut their mouth,” said Baldwin.
His thoughts on the Finals game with the Archers? Baldwin said: “La Salle has to be ready for us. We look forward to meeting them.”
Game one of the best-of-three Finals will be at 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 3 at the Mall of Asia (MOA).