ATENEO’s quest for a sixth straight championship got off to a nightmarish start, while early favorite University of the East saw its preseason bubble burst at the start of the UAAP men’s basketball tournament over the weekend.
“It’s not just a wake-up call, it’s a warning,” said UE coach Boycie Zamar after his Warriors, the champions in a recent tough summer tournament, bowed to the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 78-89.
While the Warriors collapsed and blew an early double-digit lead, the Blue Eagles showed no semblance of their old intimidating forms.
Sorely missing the firepower of injured star Kiefer Ravena, the Eagles looked flat against the National University Bulldogs, who roared to a 64-54 victory after pulling away from the reigning champions by a whopping 24 points at one point.
“The sense of urgency came late, but I know these guys are going to get better,” said new Ateneo coach Bo Perasol.
Ravena, who sprained his ankle days before the inaugurals, sat out the entire second half and finished with two points on a 1-of-6 shooting clip in just eight minutes of action.
But Perasol expects his star player to be in better shape when the Blue Eagles try to avoid falling to an early 0-2 hole against the Tamaraws on Wednesday.
“We’ll have a hard time without him,” admitted Perasol.
Zamar, too, sees his Warriors bringing back the grit they flashed all summer in their next game versus the Bulldogs on Saturday.
“We’ll bounce back,” said Zamar.