Amid woes, Blue Eagles face rival Green Archers
Amid the off-court troubles, Ateneo hopes there’s less worry when the Blue Eagles take the floor versus fierce rival La Salle in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament Sunday.
“I’m positive,” said Ateneo coach Bo Perasol. “I feel we’re strong enough to hurdle this latest adversity.”
The Eagles, who have another player in hot water, try to work on a goal that initially looked improbable against an Archers side vying to hang on to the fourth spot.
“I know that we can still be better,” said Perasol as his surging Eagles gained a shot at the top two with an 8-4 record. “I’m happy with how we are playing right now in the second round.”
The crucial match is set at 4 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
National University, the defending champion who still has a chance at crashing in the top four, takes on University of the Philippines in another key duel at 11 a.m.
“We’re not worried about how NU finishes their remaining games,” said La Salle coach Juno Sauler. “We just have to take care of our own business.”
There’s only one Final Four berth left as Far Eastern University, University of Santo Tomas and Ateneo already claimed the first three slots.
But the top two seeds, which come with a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals, remain up for grabs.
“This is going to be a battle for both of us,” said Perasol as his Eagles, who are now a game and a half out of second place after UST’s come-from-behind win over FEU yesterday (See related story on this page), all the more need to nail that ninth victory.
Last Wednesday, Ateneo’s Cameroonian player Chibueze Ikeh got detained overnight at the Quezon City Police District headquarters due to a private matter.
The incident came two weeks after his teammate, John Apacible, got suspended from the team after a viral video showed the sophomore forward in a drunken outburst during a traffic altercation.
Before that, Perasol also had to deal with calls for his ouster following some embarrassing losses, including one against the Archers where the Eagles blew a 15-point lead for a 76-80 setback in the first round.
Still, the Eagles impressively strung up four straight wins despite all the distractions.
“We’re happy [with the streak], but I know there are still a lot of things that needs to done,” said Perasol.
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