By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

THE UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses look to fortify their bid for a spot in the Final Four of UAAP Season 81 with a victory today over the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons.

Currently at joint third place with a 7-4 record with the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, UST will create further separation from the chasing pack if it comes out triumphant in their University Athletic Association of the Philippines match against UP at 4 p.m. at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

The Tigresses are coming off a three-sets win over the University of the East Lady Warriors, 25-20, 25-20 and 25-16, last Saturday.

A win over UP would put UST in a good position to advance to the next round of Season 81 while dealing a big blow to the playoff hopes of the Lady Maroons, who are outside looking in right now with a 6-5 card, good for fifth place.

Versus UE, top rookie Eya Laure led the way for the Tigresses, finishing with 14 points.

Graduating player Sisi Rondina had 11 while Ysabel Jimenez and KC Galdones finished with 10 and eight points, respectively.

“It was a good result for us. Other players stepped up today and it’s a good sign for us as it means we can rely on them moving forward,” said UST coach Emilio “Kung-fu” Reyes after their victory over UE.

The Lady Maroons, for their part, are practically fighting for their tournament lives as a loss could well be the difference in advancing to the Final Four or not.

UP did not help its cause with a four-sets loss to FEU on Saturday, 25-21, 19-25, 25-23 and 25-22, which dropped it outside of the playoff picture.

Tots Carlos led the Lady Maroons with 22 points, followed by Justine Dorog who had 15.

Injured Isa Molde tried to make it a go last time around but played limited time.

The Lady Maroons said they are not yet losing hope and will try to make the most of the three games they now have left to make it to the Final Four.

Playing in the first game at 2 p.m., meanwhile, are FEU (7-4) and National University Lady Bulldogs (3-8) with the former, like UST, looking to win that would pad its playoff cause.

In separate news, Kat Tolentino of the league-leading Ateneo Lady Eagles was named UAAP player of the week.

Tolentino played a key part in Ateneo’s twin wins last week that allowed the Lady Eagles to secure a Final Four spot, the first team to do so in the ongoing season.

She averaged 12 points against FEU and National University, in that order, to earn her second player of the year award.

In winning the plum, given by media covering the league, Tolentino bested teammate Deanna Wong and FEU’s Heather Guino-o.