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Rumble for Top 4 nearing climax

MANILA, Philippines — Adamson flaunted resiliency anew and stayed in contention for the last Final Four as the rampaging La Salle enhanced its bid for the twice-to-beat incentives nearing the climax of the UAAP 86 men’s basketball tournament.

With a game to go for all squads, the Falcons braved on and pulled off a 68-62 stunner of the second-running National U Bulldogs as the Archers remained unbeaten in the second round after fending off the Far Eastern U Tamaraws, 80-70, late Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Adamson’s win kept its Final Four hopes at 6-7 just behind reigning champion Ateneo which is currently clinging at fourth spot with a 7-6.

With seven straight wins, La Salle, for its part, caught up with NU at second place with similar 10-3 cards as UP (11-2) now enjoys the inside track for a Top-Two finish and the twice-to-beat incentives in the semis.

Didat Hanapi showed the way with 13 points and six rebounds while Matthew Montebon and Ced Manzano chipped in 12 points apiece for the wards of coach Nash Racela.

“Last time, I talked about how proud I am of the players and of our team because despite the odds and the challenges that’s in front of us, the whole year actually, ito nga buhay pa rin,” said Racela.

“So, meaning, we are competing as a team and the players deserve credit.”

Adamson has the University of the East as last assignment. UE has bowed out of the race at 4-9 after a costly 80-74 loss to Ateneo without its suspended ace rookie Precious Momowei.

A win by Adamson against UE on Sunday and a loss by Ateneo against the red-hot La Salle on Saturday would lock both teams at 7-7 and pave the way for a playoff for the last semis ticket.

The same is possible for the Top Two and the win-once bonuses as UP and NU will still clash on Sunday with La Salle needing to take care of business versus Ateneo first to force a three-way tie at 11-3.