Tamaraws seek elusive semis berth vs Falcons

Games today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)

2 p.m.NU vs UP

4 p.m. AdU vs FEU

MANILA, Philippines — Not many teams get a second chance and the Far Eastern Tamaraws intend to make the most of theirs.

After bungling their chance to complete the semis cast last Wednesday, the Tams (6-7) try again today against playoffs-bound Adamson (9-4) in the penultimate playdate of the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball elims at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Tams squandered a 15-point fourth-quarter lead and absorbed an 84-87 heartbreaker to the National U Bulldogs to find themselves in a must-win situation in the 4 p.m. setto with the Falcons. 

A victory will propel FEU to the next stage alongside unbeaten Ateneo (13-0), La Salle (11-2) and Adamson while a setback will drop the Tams to a rubbermatch for the fourth and last Final Four spot against the winner between joint fifth-running University of the Philippines (5-8) and NU (5-8) in their 2 p.m. encounter.

“I always tell the players, (to get) not too high after a win and not too low after a loss. This was a devastating loss and as I said, not too low. We still have a chance, we just have to win on Saturday,” said FEU coach Olsen Racela.

He also wants his charges to learn from their previous loss, which saw them “fall in love with the three-point shots.” The Tams sank triples  – the most since 2003 – but attempted a whopping 42 and forgot to give the same attention to defense in the stretch.

“We relied so much on offense. In the fourth quarter, we just had to make stops. We were up and we let it slip away. Papahirapan pa namin sarili namin (We just gave ourselves a tougher task), we have to win our game against Adamson,” said Racela.

The game won’t have any consequence whatsoever for the No. 3 seeded Falcons but coach Franz Pumaren stressed they will come out fighting.

“We’ll still be on Final Four mode because we’re trying to prepare ourselves for the next phase,” he said. “I told the players we’re here not just have to win games and make it to the Final Four but we’re aiming for the best finish possible.”

Although their fate is not entirely in their hands, the Maroons and the Bulldogs both want to take care of business in the first game and just hope for FEU’s downfall.

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