UAAP coaches see Ateneo and NU as teams to beatBy Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines — It doesn’t take an expert to pick the Ateneo as the favorite and it didn’t come as a surprise that National University is also one of the teams to beat this UAAP Season 75.
Even the head coaches of each team pointed out either the Blue Eagles or the Bulldogs as this year’s contenders during a press conference held at the state-of-the-art SM Mall of Asia Arena Monday afternoon.
“NU is going to be a force to reckon with,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black.
Much is expected on NU to deliver due to the team’s success in the preseason.
The Bulldogs, led by reigning MVP Ray Parks, went on an undefeated run en route to the FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup title.
But for its mentor Eric Altamirano, the team’s goal has always been the UAAP plum.
“It just so happened that we also won in FilOil,” said Altamirano, whose team routed De La Salle in the finals.
Ateneo, despite losing three key players due to graduation, still has an edge with seven-foot holdover Greg Slaughter and last season’s Rookie of the Year Kiefer Ravena in tow and is tipped to clinch its fifth straight title.
But Black knows it’s not going to be easy with host NU and perennial contender University of Santo Tomas as well as La Salle.
Black added that both UST and La Salle will be tough to beat.
The Growling Tigers will be boosted by returning players Clark Bautista and Aljon Mariano to team up with Jeric Fortuna, Karim Abdul, Jeric Teng and Kevin Ferrer while the Green Archers, with new coach Gee Abanilla, will parade celebrated high school star Jeron Teng.
The UAAP Season 75, dubbed as Unbreakable, will kick off on July 14, Saturday here.
NU will take on University of the East in the first game set at 2pm followed by an early match up of fierce rivals in UST and FEU at 4pm.
The opening ceremonies are expected to start at 12:30pm.