ATENEO hopes to accomplish its first-ever UAAP men’s basketball elimination round sweep in school history when it plays Katipunan rival University of the Philippines today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Having blown off the court, 63-89, in their first meeting, coach Bo Perasol hopes that the Fighting Maroons will come out swinging this time in their much-awaited 4 p.m. duel with the three-peat seeking Blue Eagles.
“What can I say about Ateneo? We just have to come out really strong. We have two days to prepare against them, we’ll give it our best shot. They’re not the champion for nothing,” said Perasol.
UP, which was already assured of a twice-to-beat semifinals incentive for being the second-ranked team in the eliminations, needs to deliver its A-game to drag Ateneo in a Final Four format.
A victory by the Eagles over the Maroons will make the semis a step-ladder format. UP will face the winner between No. 3 Far Eastern University and No. 4 University of Santo Tomas for the right to take on Ateneo in the best-of-three Finals.
In case of a Final Four format, the Eagles will go up against the Growling Tigers, while the Maroons will play the Tamaraws in the other pairing.
UP, which is making its first consecutive semis appearance since 1996-97, eliminated La Salle in another close game, 71-68, last Sunday.
“As I was saying, as we get deep into the playoffs, we need to know how to discipline ourselves, we need how to win games. I really think that despite all of those, we were able to come back. At least right now, the character of the team we showed now and that is important,” said Perasol.
Definitely, the Eagles’ discipline in the game has been the key to their remarkable 13-0 record.
“I think in the last couple of weeks we’ve seen our team really transfer our work ethic from practice onto the court into the game. That’s very gratifying as a coach. And I think they’re enjoying it a lot too,” said Ateneo mentor Tab Baldwin.
The Eagles hope to achieve the double-round sweep that they failed to do in 2011. Ateneo also won its first 13 consecutive matches before dropping its final elimination match to Adamson, though the team was still able to annex its fourth straight championship.
The Green Archers, who will finish fifth for the second consecutive year, and the Falcons, who underachieved this season, clash in a meaningless game at 12:30 p.m.
University of the East and National University collide in a duel of last-placed squads at 10:30 a.m. to open the final tripleheader of the men’s basketball season.