Two teams lock horns in an all-important showdown on Wednesday to determine the third seed in the UAAP Season 81 Final Four.
The De La Salle Green Archers (8-5) and UP Fighting Maroons (7-6) go head-to-head with the winner not only assured of a postseason berth but also avoiding a potential knockout game against the FEU Tamaraws (7-6).
If La Salle goes on to win its game versus UP, it finishes the elimination round with a 9-5 record, right below league-leaders Ateneo Blue Eagles and Adamson Falcons.
"We have to move forward and take care of business on Wednesday," La Salle coach Louie Gonzalez said after the Green Archers lost to the Blue Eagles on Sunday.
"We really need to work hard to get that win. Reason being is because at least we will know what will happen Not for anything else, it's the mindset that if we win on Wednesday, we know that we will go up against Adamson," he added.
The loss by the Archers on Sunday gave them a double black eye. They allowed the Blue Eagles to soar to the number one spot and at the same time give the Falcons the second twice-to-beat incentive.
La Salle, who has been in the finals the past two seasons, will be put in a dire situation should its lose its final elimination round game. As UP will claim third place, the Green Archers will be vulnerable for a possible knockout game versus the Tamaraws if they end up with identical 8-6 records.
UP head coach Bo Perasol meanwhile also stressed the importance of their matchup versus La Salle. After the Fighting Maroons' recent victory over the UST Growling Tigers, Perasol warned his squad not to dwell on their success just yet.
"Well the best thing that this win (over UST) has done for us is to place us in a position to fight for that slot," Perasol implored. "We need that one win on Wednesday. We have to put this win behind us. We cannot overthink this because there is a much more crucial game on Wednesday."
A win by UP will also be a historic one as the Katipunan-based squad hasn't been in the Final Four since 1997. The culture of accountability and winning attitude brought by Perasol will finally bear fruit should his team breakthrough after the school's two decades worth of disappointment. But a loss will leave them with no control of their playoff chances. The opportunity is there for the taking and all they have to do is claim it.
As mentioned, the victor of La Salle versus UP will automatically earn the third seed. The loser's Final Four hopes, on the other hand, will hinge on the outcome between FEU and Adamson.