Tiger Cubs or Baby Falcons for fourth and final playoff berth?

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Feb 10, 2018 05:17 PM
Tiger Cubs or Baby Falcons for final playoff berth?
Joem Sabandal and CJ Cansino look to lead Adamson and UST, respectively, into the playoffs

The top three teams in the elimination round of the UAAP 80 Juniors Basketball Tournament are set – and as always, traditional powerhouses Ateneo de Manila High School, Nazareth School of National University, and Far Eastern University-Diliman are in.

The fourth and final playoff berth, however, remains very much up for grabs.

Disputing it are a pair of upstarts in University of Sto. Tomas and Adamson High School – two teams who hold similar 6-7 slates, but who took opposite paths to get to where they are.

The Tiger Cubs stood on the shoulders of promising prospect CJ Cansino to register a 5-2 standing after the first round.

Since then, however, they have lost five of their next six games and now find themselves in a must-win situation to remain in contention.

Still, Cansino says hope is not lost – even though their last assignment is up against the defending champion Baby Tamaraws. “Hahanap kami ng paraan para makuha ‘tong last game – at siyempre, yung Final Four,” he said.

After the first round, the do-it-all swingman had a whopping 26-point lead in the MVP race.

With Espana’s struggles, it is more likely than not that the other contenders like Blue Eaglets Kai Sotto and SJ Belangel have closed the gap.

However, the King Tiger Cub is not worrying himself with the top individual honor. “Ako po, gusto ko lang makapasok sa Final Four,” he said.

With the same determination they have, though, and a relatively easier road to get there are the Baby Falcons.

Following a so-so first round, the San Marcelino-based squad has stood tall in the second round.

Now, they need just another win at the expense of also-ran De La Salle Zobel to stay alive in completing their unlikely playoff push.

Without a doubt, it is a tall task, but according to head coach Mike Fermin, his wards are tackling it head-on. “The players want to prove that they belong in the top four,” he said.

Fermin said that being the unlikeliest of playoff contenders this season has only motivated them even more. “We have been preaching since (day one) that we are nobody and in order for us to be recognized, we need to be in the top four,” he said.

Adamson fights for its playoff life up against the Junior Archers on Sunday at 11:00 AM while UST does the same up against the defending champions at 1:00 PM.

If both teams win their respective assignments, they will be pitted against each other with the fourth and final playoff berth at stake.

Same goes if both teams lose their respective assignments.

If one team wins and the other loses, of course, the winner moves on to the next round while the loser bids farewell.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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