Ateneo Blue Eagles battle San Sebastian Stags for PCCL title | Inquirer Sports

Ateneo Blue Eagles battle San Sebastian Stags for PCCL title

By: - Reporter / @jwpayoINQ
/ 12:51 AM December 15, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Already replete with stories of success, Ateneo goes for another historic feat against San Sebastian in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League Finals Thursday.

Photo by August dela Cruz

The four-time UAAP champion Blue Eagles, despite admitting they are physically tired, aim to become the first team to claim three straight crowns in the nationwide event against the similarly motivated Stags.

“It’s a little bit late in the season and most of these guys are also thinking about a little bit of rest, but hopefully I can motivate them to play their best game,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black.

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Game time of the winner-take-all showdown is 3:30 p.m. at the FilOil-Flying V Arena in San Juan.

The Stags, who claim to be the underdogs despite toting a twice-to-beat edge, find motivation in becoming the first NCAA team to rule the tournament.

“We have to better their best game for us to win against them, that’s really the bottom line,” said San Sebastian coach Topex Robinson.

The Eagles forged a do-or-die title match after outlasting the Stags, 56-51, in last Monday’s game where Black rued his wards’ sloppy performance.

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“It’s like there’s no way we can beat them even on our best night,” said Robinson. “But we might pull off a surprise. The pressure is on them.”

Robinson commended his crew, led by the explosive Calvin Abueva, for putting up a strong fight.

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“If there’s anything that we can do is just don’t give up,” said Robinson. “There was a point in the third quarter (in Monday’s Finals) when they started to pull away. But just a few possessions, we were back in the game. It was the breaks of the game.”

During the round-robin semifinals, the Stags actually rallied to a 70-69 upset of the Eagles in a victory that helped them claim the No. 1 spot and the twice-to-beat Finals bonus.

Black admitted the Stags had been tenacious on defense against the Eagles, whose core players like Greg Slaughter, Nico Salva and Kiefer Ravena had been playing year-round with their stint with the national team following their UAAP title romp.

“They’ve done a great job in their zone defense,” Black said of the Stags. “They’ve been playing the zone almost 90 percent of the time. They do a good job getting into the passing lanes and cutting off our passing angles.”

The Eagles again expect to have their hands full against Abueva, who got away with 16 points and 10 rebounds in his last outing.

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“I don’t think you can really stop Calvin Abueva,” said Black. “The best you can do is try to control him a little bit.”

TAGS: Ateneo Blue Eagles, Basketball, Calvin Abueva, Greg Slaughter, Kiefer Ravena, Nico Salva, Norman Black, PCCL, San Sebastian Stags, Sports, Topex Robinson

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