ATENEO and Adamson, two of the league’s hottest teams, collide today in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles may have looked favorites to secure their eighth straight win against the Falcons, who are on a four-game roll, but assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga remains wary of his team’s chances in the 4 p.m.
“Adamson is on a roll. The last time we met them, Papi Sarr didn’t play,” said Arespacochaga. “They got momentum. They are a well-coached team. They have a couple of players who didn’t play well in the first round are starting to hit their strides.”
“It’s going to be a different battle compared to the first round. So we really have to prepare well against them and coach Franz (Pumaren) will also prepare well against us also,” he added.
Without Sarr, who was then recovering with a hamstring injury, and the backcourt duo of Jerrick Ahanmisi and Jerie Pingoy groping in form, Ateneo posted a runaway 85-65 win on opening day.
Chibueze Ikeh, who had 18 points and 17 rebounds in the opener, is expected to have a tough duel with Sarr in the middle, while Thirdy Ravena will again provide the leadership the Eagles need.
After coasting along most of the first round, Ateneo survived its biggest test of the season, a 76-75 squeaker over defending champion La Salle last Sunday.
Despite hurdling the Green Archers that gave them a first round sweep, the Eagles know of the emormous task of maintaining their perfect streak.
Pumaren was satisfied that the Falcons were able to overcame the 1-2 start that put early into question their Final Four aspirations.
“Surpised. Bit disappointed also. There were times that we had a lot of mistakes. But I guess, we surprised a lot of people in this position. Come second round, it’s going to be different,” said Pumaren.
Adamson, currently sitting in third spot at 5-2, is gunning for a second straight semifinals appearance.
National University and University of the East take the floor in the first game at 2 p.m.
The Bulldogs routed the Red Warriors on opening day, 86-69, but this result can’t also guarantee a repeat.
UE has played well as of late, in a 100-106 loss to La Salle, and a 96-91 conquest of University of Santo Tomas that ended a six-game losing skid.
Alvin Pasaol has been beasting in the last two games, dropping a Red Warrior record of 49 against the Green Archers and torched 32 in beating the Growling Tigers.
Sporting a 3-4 card, NU hopes to tie Far Eastern University and University of the Philippines in fourth place.