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UAAP Finals Preview: FEU vs. NU

By Ivan Saldajeno

In what Coach Nash Racela described as the "best thing that ever happened in the UAAP", it's FEU and NU in the UAAP Finals! Here's our lookahead to the finale.

History: The last time both the Tamaraws and the Bulldogs battled it out for the title was in a one-game showdown in 1954. NU beat FEU in that championship game, 41-36 (there were no shotclock and three-point line then). On the other hand, this is the first time in the Final Four Era that neither Ateneo nor La Salle made the finals. The last time a championship series did not feature both teams was in 1992, when FEU, with a twice-to-beat disadvantage, swept Adamson. No championship was played the following year after UST swept the season.

What Now: Both teams needed to win twice in the Final Four to advance to the championship round. The Bulldogs, at the wrong end of the Final Four bonus, swept the Ateneo Blue Eagles, becoming only the second fourth-seeded team to enter the Finals (curiously, the Bulldogs were on the wrong end of the first occurrence of 4-beats-1 last year). On the other hand, the Tamaraws needed three games (it was a virtual best-of-three affair counting the playoff for second) and a Mac Belo triple at the buzzer to dethrone the erstwhile champions De La Salle Green Archers.

Key Match-Up: Mac Belo vs. Glenn Khobuntin-Belo's game-winner was not the only highlight of his Final Four series against La Salle. The 6-4 swingman was actually impressive in the semis. Belo averaged 23.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in the three-game showdown (again including the playoff for second). On the other hand, Glenn Khobuntin also made a good impression against Ateneo. The graduating forward averaged 11.5 points and six rebounds per game in the upset. Not that good? Check out Khobuntin's hustle game. Eight of his 12 total rebounds in the NU-Ateneo series were offensive boards (that's four per game). Props to Mike Tolomia and Gelo Alolino, but Belo and Khobuntin never back down. Their match-up will be fun to watch.

More stats: While NU was 0-2 against FEU in their elimination series, it may have some advantage in terms of depth. In Game 1 of the Ateneo series, J-Jay Alejandro exploded for 20 points. On the other hand, Henri Betayene proved to be a good backup to Alfred Aroga (actually, it's the other way around most of the time) as he provided some inside toughness while Aroga was sitting down. It also has Rev Diputado and Kyle Neypes who can also be solid in the short time they play. On the other hand, only Roger Pogoy and Raymar Jose were good off the bench for FEU in its series against La Salle.
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