Streaking Ateneo tests rejuvenated UP fiveBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
WHEN Ateneo tries to strengthen its hold of the solo lead today, the Blue Eagles face a University of the Philippines crew pumped up by its breakthrough win.
So Ateneo coach Norman Black hopes to draw another solid effort from its bench when the Blue Eagles battle the Maroons in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at 4 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena.
La Salle, gunning for a share of the fourth spot, similarly takes on an energized University of the East squad in the first game at 2 p.m.
The Warriors, who recently tapped new coach David “Boycie” Zamar, and the Maroons aim to turn their campaigns around after finishing the first round tied with woeful 1-6 records.
“Losing hope is not an option for us,” UP coach Ricky Dandan said when the Maroons snapped a six-game losing spell, 63-48, against the Warriors last Sunday.
“Fortitude is a big word for us and I think our guys showed it [in our last game]. I’m sure this will propel us to a stronger second round.”
Zamar—who mentored the Warriors for three seasons starting in 2001—also hopes to give UE the confidence boost it sorely needs.
“I’m not a superhero and I’m not a magician, but we’ll do our best,” said Zamar, who replaced Jerry Codiñera only last Thursday. “We just made some adjustments, like in defense and boxing out.”
The Blue Eagles, riding on a five-game winning streak, looked beyond the top trio of Greg Slaughter, Nico Salva and Kiefer Ravena in their 74-71 nipping of FEU last Saturday.
“Ryan [Buenafe] orchestrated very well, he played almost like a point guard with the way he delivered the ball to his teammates,” said Black, who also drew notable contributions from Juami Tiongson, JP Erram and Nico Elorde.
The Archers ended the first round with back-to-back triumphs, the last on a thrilling double overtime win over NU, 87-86, where rookie Jeron Teng exploded for 35 points.
“We’re in the middle of the pack, so somehow we’re within striking distance,” said La Salle coach Gee Abanilla. “We just have to do our homework.”