WHILE the contenders are scrambling for the remaining three semifinals berths, consensus title favorite Ateneo is sitting pretty alone on top, coasting along in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
With his team two wins away from jumping straight to the Finals, coach Tab Baldwin is downplaying thoughts about a sweep of the double-round eliminations.
"No. We’re just thinking NU. For any team in this position things like undefeated seasons, sweeps, they happen because you take it one step at at time not because you make some grand statement about how good you are in front of a microphone," said Baldwin.
Gunning for a 13th consecutive victory, the Blue Eagles hope to play their usual game in today's 2 p.m. showdown with the already-eliminated Bulldogs at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
"Sports is about performance, not about bragging about performance. So we’re very much focused on what our next performance is gonna be. Hopefully when we go up against NU, we’ll be prepared for that game and we’ll take care of business," said Baldwin.
The powerhouse Eagles are so balanced that graduating seniors Thirdy Ravena and Isaac Go doesn't mind playing second fiddle to the young but equally talented teammates.
"We all carry a very important role no matter how small or how big it is because every single detail adds up to the bigger picture which is actually who we are, Blue Eagles Band Of Brothers, yun yung nage-embody sa amin," said Ravena.
"All those little details that people don’t see during the games that they put as much hours as we do in the court, the preparation that they do for us. They help us win for the games. Yun yung intangibles na hindi nakikita ng mga tao na very valuable to us players especially the people who are playing a lot of minutes," he added.
"That’s why our role talaga is to make sure na the games in our favor para makalaro sila. I think that’s it. Yun lang. Kung ano yung kina-importante namin ganun ka-importante lahat ng players sa team."
In last place with a 2-10 record, the Bulldogs are simply looking forward to play the spoiler's role against the defending two-time champions.
Meanwhile, University of Santo Tomas seeks to guarantee itself of a playoff for the last semifinals berth against also-ran Adamson at 4 p.m.
Instead of having a trouble-free entry to the semis, the Growling Tigers need to beat the Falcons and hope to gain favorable results in the last two playdates of the elims.
UST's semis bid was derailed by La Salle with last Wednesday's narrow 79-80 defeat, dropping the Tigers in a tie with Far Eastern University in third place at 7-6.
The setback also put a dampener in UST's hopes of clinching the remaining twice-to-beat semis incentive, as the España-based squad is now trailing University of the Philippines (8-4) by one-and-a-half games.