UNIVERSITY of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas dispute the early lead today in the UAAP men's basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
For them to pull this one off, Coach Bo Perasol knows that the Fighting Maroons need to elevate their level of play in their 4 p.m. duel with the Growling Tigers.
"They are small according to coach Aldin (Ayo) is nakakaloko kasi minsan. The way they play, they play bigger than the bigger things, the way they rebound and defend," said Perasol.
"We just have to get back to the drawing board and find a way on how we’ll deal with this kind of aggressive team," he added.
UP, last season's runner-up, opened its championship bid with a 61-55 decision over Far Eastern University, while UST was equally impressive with a 95-82 romp of University of the East.
Adamson aims to rebound from its season-opening loss to three-peat seeking Ateneo as it takes on debuting National University at 2 p.m.
The Maroons are looking forward to have Kobe Paras, who along with Ricci Rivero are among the team's much-hyped acquisitions to end more than three decades of title drought, in tow for his much-awaited UAAP debut.
Paras, who suited up for a year in Creighton before deciding to play for his father's alma mater, missed the opener due to a sprained right ankle.
"I’m hoping. Regardless if he’s 100 percent but he really needs to feel the game already, even in limited minutes. It was just a minor sprain, but I don’t want to risk it also," said Perasol.
"Right now he needs to feel the game, I think we have a week of rest after that. He has to be ready for the games to come," he added.
What makes UP so potent right now is Javi Gomez de Liaño, who came out of the shadows of his much popular brother Juan and finished with 22 points in the opener.
"I have been really putting in the work, cause I know it’s my fourth year so I just want to step up and help the team," said Gomez de Liaño.
"As a team we just have to do better, that’s it," he added.
Determined to make it back to the Final Four after a three-year absence, Ayo hopes that the Tigers will follow their game plan to the letter this season.
"I think everybody knows that we have to run because we're the smallest team. If we don't run, anong makukuha mo? Everybody knows it, magagaling ang coaches sa UAAP and they're going to study our system, i-distract nila kami but were ready and the players have absorbed the system already, pero may mga dapat pang trabahuin," said Ayo.