Hostilities in the 75th UAAP basketball tournament are expected to heat up when the league begins its second round tomorrow at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Co-leaders University of Santo Tomas and defending champion Ateneo vie for the twice-to-beat advantage and the No. 1 seed in the Final Four while La Salle and National University try to wrest at least the fourth-and-final spot in the postseason.
The vastly-improved Tigers and the five-peat seeking Eagles are tied for first at 6-1 while the Archers and the host Bulldogs share identical 4-3 slates for fourth position.
At the middle of both races is back-to-back runners-up Far Eastern University, which is toting a third-best 5-2 record.
Though the Tamaraws are a game back of UST and Ateneo for the lead, they are also just a game ahead of La Salle and NU for third and an inconsistent second round could put their Final Four bid in peril.
Distant Final Four chasers are University of the Philippines, Adamson and University of the East, all carrying 1-6 slates but they would need a major miracle in order to catch up.
The top four teams after the elimination round will enter the Final Four, with the first and second placed squads to carry twice-to-beat incentives against the third and fourth-seeded teams, respectively.
Should two squads end up tied for first or third, the league will use a head-to-head series or a quotient system to break the tie.
But a one-game playoff will be scheduled if two teams finished the elims tied for second or fourth.
The league is slated to hold two Wednesday games during the second round to make up for the lengthy delays in the first round caused by the inclement weather.