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UAAP crown, glory in sight

MANILA, Philippines — University of the Philippines is out to prove its stature as the UAAP’s new and legitimate superpower.

With their second title in the past three seasons now within reach, the Fighting Maroons go for the jugular against the La Salle Green Archers in a potential clincher of the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The hoopers from Diliman drew first blood in emphatic fashion, 97-67, and want no stoppage in Game 2 of the short best-of-three Last Dance.

Game time is at 4 p.m. with the Maroons eyeing to topple another collegiate house in the Green Archers on their way to the throne.

At 12 noon is an equally fiery battle in Game 2 of the women’s basketball finals featuring Santo Tomas’ bid to end a 17-year drought after stunning seven-peat champion National U in Game 1, 76-72.

Prior to that is the awarding ceremony for the finest cagers this season led by men’s MVP Kevin Quiambao of La Salle and women’s MVP Kacey dela Rosa of Ateneo.

But all eyes are on the Maroons.

UP, finalist in the last three seasons, clawed back to its rightful spot after 36 long years in Season 84 before a runner-up finish in Season 85.

On both occasions, the Maroons met the Ateneo Blue Eagles, champions in four of the last five years, whom they eliminated this time in the Final Four. UP snapped Ateneo’s streak of six straight finals appearance en route to its first-ever championship date against La Salle.

A win today against La Salle, which has 17 finals appearance in the Final Four for the UAAP’s best, would cement UP’s claim as the league’s new king – as if there’s any doubt to that.

A loud statement to that bid was UP’s massive 30-point beating of La Salle in Game 1 for the most lopsided victory in UAAP Final Four era.

But coach Goldwin Monteverde, who’s yet to miss the finals since he took over the Diliman program, warned his wards of complacency until the job is done.

“It’s a series. The finals is not one game only so we have to sustain it. We have work in Game 2 and be ready,” said Monteverde, the same mentor who helped build National U’s high school dynasty before jumping to the seniors level with UP.

For Monteverde, it’s one