Facing fearless foes, favorites Ateneo and UP eye championship berths
There is hardly any reason to doubt that defending champion University of the Philippines (UP) and top seed will maximize their talent depth to forge another titular showdown in the UAAP Season 85 Mens’ basketball tournament.
National University (NU) and Adamson will try to give them one anyway.
And right off the bat, Falcons coach Nash Racela is showing that his fourth-ranked semifinalists are not intimidated by the No. 1 Blue Eagles.
“Ateneo is hard to beat, but they are beatable,’’ Racela said.
Adamson lost both meetings with Ateneo this season, but after entering the semifinals by surviving a runoff against an inconsistent and injury-plagued La Salle squad, the Falcons are taking a gung-ho approach into the showdown.
“We’re actually gate-crashing the Final Four. People didn’t expect us to be here,” Racela said.
The Bulldogs, at least, have a win to show against No. 2 seed UP. And coach Jeff Napa is relishing an opportunity to try to chip at the Maroons’ twice-to-beat advantage.
“On the positive side, we’re still in the Final Four. I know our confidence has gone down, but we will still keep on pushing. We have to beat them twice, but it’s a great experience as players and as a coach to overcome that kind of adversity,’’ Napa said.
As the top two seeds in the Final Four, Ateneo and UP need only to win once to advance to the title duel.
Adamson and NU, meanwhile, need to win two straight games.
But the Eagles and the Maroons are making sure they won’t have to cash in on their semifinal bonus.
“Entering the Final Four is a whole new ballgame. We make sure that we’re not going to relax and let our guard down,’’ said Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga. INQ
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