Eagles chasing UAAP history versus TigersBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
When Ateneo battles University of Santo Tomas for the UAAP championship, the Blue Eagles will be chasing history that comes with a fifth straight crown.
Ever since University of the East strung up seven straight titles from 1965 to 1971, no team has come close to threatening the record in men’s basketball.
So with another title conquest, the Blue Eagles will not only move within two wins of matching the feat but also earn the distinction of having the second longest championship reign in the league.
“A ‘five-peat’ is a rare feat, it may not happen again, so we want to make the most out of it,” said team manager Paolo Trillo.
Game 1 is set at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow at Mall of Asia Arena.
Another crown will also cement the Eagles’ status as the most successful team the past decade with six championships, including their 2002 title run, and a record 14 straight Final Four appearances.
When Ateneo prevailed last season, it joined an elite group that includes UST (1993-1996) and La Salle (1998-2001) with four consecutive crowns.
But Ateneo mentor Norman Black hasn’t been caught up with the sidelights of the title series. Even his departure for the pro league at the end of the season hasn’t been a major concern.
“I’m more of trying to prepare the team to the best of my ability, to give them the best chance to win,” said Black. “I’m trying to stay within the moment and study UST, figure out how we can beat them and convince the team to go out and execute the game plan.”
UST coach Pido Jarencio, though, thinks the pressure weighs heavily on the Eagles.
“In the preseason, no one even talked about our team, so we have nothing to lose” said Jarencio. “But we’re prepared and ready.”
The Eagles and the Tigers split their two games in the eliminations with UST scoring first, 71-70, before Ateneo got even with a 68-66 decision.