No rest for the victorious as Maroons shoot for first round sweep | Inquirer Sports
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No rest for the victorious as Maroons shoot for first round sweep

UP coach Goldwyn Monteverde. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

UP coach Goldwyn Monteverde. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

For a team coming off a big win against one of the top guns in Season 86 of the UAAP men’s basketball tournament, undefeated University of the Philippines (UP) certainly has earned the chance to take it easy even for a bit.

But the Maroons won’t—and that’s not because they can’t.

“There is no stopping for us. There’s always something we could improve on,” coach Goldwin Monteverde said, moments after a high-wire 67-64 nipping of La Salle on Wednesday that moved the Fighting Maroons within another win of a first round sweep. “As a team, we would really take both the good and bad games as a learning experience.

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“We would still be looking in every game, every practice, on what we could improve on,” he went on. “For me, it is really nonstop.”

Standing in the way of a perfect slate to take into the second half of the eliminations is defending champion Ateneo, which, unlike UP, has been trying to find a sustained groove to be able to stay at the upper half of the standings.

That game against the Green Archers was so big that Monteverde admits to not having given the Blue Eagles much thought. But winning their first round clash will certainly count for more than a sweep. The veritable psychological edge is at stake in the Sunday match between teams which have disputed—and split—the titles the last two seasons.

“As we do before facing all teams, every time we’re gonna play them, we’re gonna prepare for them,” Monteverde said. “What’s important on our part is try to be healthy before (game time) Sunday.”

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The Eagles are at 3-3 and they dropped games against teams Ateneo wasn’t expected to lose to.

But Ateneo knows how to play big in big moments, as evidenced by a 77-72 win against archrival La Salle a couple of weeks back, and that’s probably why the Maroons have to be on their toes.

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“Generally speaking, it was a good game on both ends of the floor for us,” Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin said, minutes after ripping University of Santo Tomas to shreds, 97-77, also on Wednesday. “I think we need that kind of performance, especially going into the UP game.”

Ateneo is one side that can match up well with UP on basically all positions.

Malick Diouf will have no distinct advantage over Joe Obasa, and the rest of the Ateneo front line can be a handful for any team here.

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That’s why Monteverde is not about to let his charges ease off on the gas pedal.

TAGS: Ateneo, UAAP men’s basketball, University of the Philippines (UP)

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