La Salle, FEU strong picks | Inquirer Sports

La Salle, FEU strong picks

By: - Reporter / @jwpayoINQ
/ 05:08 AM September 05, 2017

A preseason brawl between La Salle and Far Eastern University may have fanned the animosity between the two powerhouse squads, but Green Archers coach Aldin Ayo would rather have his players deal with the absence of their main man.

Ben Mbala, last season’s Most Valuable Player, won’t see action with the defending champion Archers when Season 80 of the UAAP men’s basketball tournament fires off this weekend.

“It’s a big test playing without Ben,” Ayo said of his Cameroonian center, who may miss two games as he plays for his national team in the 2017 Fiba Afrobasket. “But we don’t rely on one player only, we rely on our system.”

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Ayo, as well as new FEU coach Olsen Racela, said their teams had moved on from last week’s invitational game that resulted in an ugly free-for-all in Davao City. It’s the second straight year the two schools figured in a preseason altercation.

“What I always preach and tell my players in basketball or in life is not to dwell on the past—move forward, be mindful of the present,” said Racela.

All’s well between coaches Aldin Ayo of La Salle (left) and Olsen Racela of Far Eastern U after a recent offseason brawl among their players in Davao City. —Sherwin Vardeleon

All’s well between coaches Aldin Ayo of La Salle (left) and Olsen Racela of Far Eastern U after a recent offseason brawl among their players in Davao City. —Sherwin Vardeleon

The Archers and the Tamaraws stand as favorites this season along with the Ateneo Blue Eagles, who reached the finals last year despite the graduation of several veterans.

“Our team caught a lot of people by surprise,” said Sandy Arespacochaga, deputy of Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin. “We did well so it’s also a challenge for us to be consistent.”

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For University of the Philippines coach Bo Perasol, the challenge is dealing with the absence of key recruits Ibrahim Quattara and Rob Ricafort, who were declared ineligible Monday, just hours before the league’s press conference at Mall of Asia Arena.

“We don’t know yet how our team will look like,” said Perasol, noting UP will appeal the league’s decision that his players need to serve one more year of residency.

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The season kicks off with University of the East and National U battling at 2 p.m. this Saturday at MoA Arena, followed by the 4 p.m. clash between Ateneo and Adamson.

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TAGS: aldin ayo, Basketball, Olsen Racela, UAAP

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