UAAP Season 86 is slowly approaching its crescendo with round two of the eliminations set to wrap up this weekend.
Each team is now down to its last game of the regular season and five of them still remain in contention for a Final Four spot. The UP Fighting Maroons, DLSU Green Archers, and NU Bulldogs are all assured of their place in the next round while the ADMU Blue Eagles and the AdU Soaring Falcons are competing for the last berth.
The Fighting Maroons remain on top of the standings, as they have all season long, and remain in control of their own destiny. UP leads the pack with an 11-2 win-loss record and a win in their season finale versus NU will guarantee them the top seed in the Final Four.
However, the Bulldogs are expected to bring their best in their match against the Fighting Maroons given that a loss would put their chances of securing the second seed and, more importantly, a twice-to-beat edge in jeopardy.
NU’s situation was made more difficult by their upset loss to AdU in their most recent contest as they now head into the weekend sporting a 10-3 slate. This has them tied at second place with a red-hot DLSU team that is riding a season-high seven-game winning streak.
The Green Archers have responded strongly from their lethargic 3-3 start to UAAP 86 as they have relied heavily on the exploits of leading Most Valuable Player candidate Kevin Quiambao. The play of the 22-year-old forward in the second round has made it clear that he is the best amateur player in the country at the moment and he is expected to be named the first local born player to win the UAAP MVP award since 2015.
What makes this weekend even more exciting for La Salle’s community is that their last opponent of the eliminations is their archrival Ateneo who are fighting for positioning as well.
The reigning UAAP champion Blue Eagles own a 7-6 record and a second victory against the Green Archers this season would guarantee them the fourth and final semis ticket. If ADMU loses to DLSU and Adamson wins their last game against the eliminated UE Red Warriors though, the Blue Eagles and Soaring Falcons will be tied for fourth place which triggers a do-or-die playoff for the last Final Four slot. An Adamson loss to UE instantly eliminates them from contention and gives Ateneo the highly-coveted last Final Four spot.
On top of the standings, a win from both the Fighting Maroons and Green Archers will allow them to enter the Final Four in first and second place, respectively.
Meanwhile, an NU win over UP coupled with a DLSU victory will force a triple tie for the top seed. In this scenario, the league’s quotient rule will be triggered. In the unlikely case that the Bulldogs manage to blow out the Fighting Maroons by over 39 points, they will earn the top seed. If NU wins by less than 39 points, La Salle advances as the number one team. This then sets up a virtual best-of-three between the Bulldogs and Fighting Maroons involving a tie-breaker for the twice-to-beat advantage followed by the usual UAAP semi final format.
On the other hand, a loss from both NU and DLSU sets these two teams up for the same virtual best-of-three scenario and also secures a UP-ADMU Final Four showdown.
The beauty of parity has been on full display in the UAAP this season and this climactic final weekend of round two is only the prelude to what promises to be an exhilarating Final Four. The Fighting Maroons, Green Archers, and Bulldogs are all worthy title contenders in their own right, but one can never count out the Blue Eagles and Soaring Falcons from pulling off a surprise. These next few weeks are going to be historic and whatever team comes out on top will come away with one of the most memorable championships in recent history.