De La Salle University and University of the Philippines are out to lay it all on the line, colliding in the decider of the UAAP Season 86 men's basketball best-of-three Finals series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum today.

Game 3 of the first-ever La Salle-UP Finals series is set at 6 p.m., with the Big Dome expected to be filled to the brim anew after drawing a massive 20,863 gate attendance in Game 2.

La Salle avenged its 97-67 Game 1 loss to UP with a vengeful 82-60 Game 2 win last Sunday to set up the sudden death Game 3.

Season Most Valuable Player Kevin Quiambao and fellow Mythical Team member Evan Nelle both bounced back from their respective subpar performances in the series opener, and drew help from the likes of Francis Escandor and Joshua David, who found their range in the first half to key the Green Archers blowout triumph.

As he guns for his first-ever championship in the collegiate level and La Salle aims for its first title in seven years, coach Topex Robinson stressed the importance of his team embracing the pressure brought about by the stakes of the game.

"We always remind ourselves that pressure is a privilege. You know, if you want to be great, we have to face it," said Robinson.

Meanwhile, it's the Fighting Maroons' turn to showcase their bounce back genes in a bid to reclaim the glory they lost to the Ateneo Blue Eagles last season, and win their fourth overall title.

Energy and desire to win seemed to have been the issue for UP in Game 2, especially in the rebounding department where it yielded to La Salle, 46-58, including an 11-19 disparity in the offensive boards. The Fighting Maroons thus gained four second chance points only compared to the Green Archers' 16.

"I thought they had more energy earlier. This kind of game would teach us what kind of effort to put forth to be able to win the championship. If we need to learn from this [so be it]," said UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde.

"Part of it [La Salle's energy] is in the rebounding department. I think they were getting most of the 50-50 balls earlier. For me, that's a huge thing but then again definitely we'll learn from that," said Monteverde, whose team also got beaten in assists, 8-21.

Monteverde and the Fighting Maroons, who are to play in a Finals Game 3 for the third straight season, aren't keen on making excuses and crying over spilled milk, though.

"It is what it is. We're not gonna make any reasons on what's the turnout of the game today. But rather we're gonna look inside us, on what we should have done," said Monteverde.

"The good thing here is there's still a Game 3, and our chance [to win a championship] is still there. We'll learn from it [our mistakes]."

The women's basketball best-of-three Finals series between the defending champs NU Lady Bulldogs and the UST Growling Tigresses have likewise reached the distance.

NU shoots for its eighth straight championship as UST eyes its first title in 17 years in Game 3 set at 12 p.m. also at the Big Dome.

2023-12-05T16:29:03Z dg43tfdfdgfd