Ateneo seeks top spot; UST-La Salle match sets Teng duelBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
ATENEO coach Norman Black goes for his 100th UAAP career win when the Blue Eagles shoot for the solo lead in the men’s basketball tournament today.
But more than his record, Black wants the Blue Eagles to keep their focus on the game even if his four-time champions take on another winless squad in the University of the East at 4 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena.
“I’m hoping we can get off to a better start against UE,” Black said after the Eagles overcame a scare against the cellar-dwelling University of the Philippines, 76-70, just two days ago.
“So far this season we’ve been getting off to great starts. But [against UP] we did not get off to a good start. It was the first time and I’ve talked to the players about that over and over—not to take any team for granted and come up with same effort we’ve been giving against stronger teams. So hopefully, we learn from this.”
University of Santo Tomas guns for solo third against La Salle where the terrific Teng brothers also square off for the first time in the 2 p.m. match.
Jeric Teng—the much improved wingman who averages a team-best 18.3 points and 6.7 rebounds—hopes to lead the Tigers to their third straight triumph.
“I’m excited because this is the first time we’ll match up against each other,” Jeric said of his showdown with his younger brother Jeron. “We challenge each other. But I’m also motivated because I can see where our team can go.”
La Salle’s Jeron Teng, a shoo-in for the rookie plum, has also been starring for the Green Archers with averages of 12.5 points and six boards.
But new coach Gee Abanilla hopes his Archers quickly adjust following back-to-back losses, the last on a 71-61 setback against rival Ateneo last week.
“We’re slowly learning and I hope the boys will pick it up right away,” said Abanilla. “But the positive side is that we … showed character [against Ateneo]. We understand that we have a chance to improve.”
Ateneo shares the top spot with idle Far Eastern University at 4-1, followed by National University (3-2) and UST (2-1).
“I hope we won’t make the same mistake against UE,” said Black. “The Ateneo team is going to get the best effort from every team we go up against.”