Ateneo collides with ‘different’ AdU today
Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum) 2 p.m. – UE vs NU 4 p.m. – Ateneo vs Adamson
Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arrespacochaga swears the Blue Eagles are facing a different Adamson squad when the two hot teams slug it out today in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament at the SmartAraneta Coliseum.
Cameroon big man Papi Sarr has returned following a groin injury and is widely credited for the Soaring Falcon’s four-game winning run.
That explains why the Blue Eagles are bracing themselves for a tougher grind starting at 4 p.m. following a six-day break and a sweep of the firstround of eliminations.
Last time they faced off on Sept. 9, Ateneo soared to an 85-65 win.
But Arespacochaga is convinced that the Blue Eagles, as fluid as they’ve been playing right now, will have their hands full.
“The last time we played them, Papi Sarr didn’t play. And they’re on a roll right now,” he stressed.
“They’re a well-coached team. You could see a couple of their players who didn’t play well against us in the first round are already hitting their stride. So it’s gonna be a different battle compared to when we played them in the first round. We really have to prepare well against them.”
Clashing in the opener at 2 p.m. are National University and University of the East, both determined to kick off their respective campaigns in the second round on a high note.
The Bulldogs should come in as favorites after scoring an 86-69 win over the Red Warriors in the season opener. But NU coach Jamike Jarin believes UE remains dangerous after its breakthrough win over struggling University of Santo Tomas last week.
“We cannot take them for granted. They’ve shown what they are capable of,” he said. “Hopefully, we can fasttrack the development of my younger players. Now we got the experience in the first round and hopefully the experience we got will benefit us and it will result to more wins.”
All eyes, however, will be on the “Birds of Prey,” with Adamson coach Franz Pumaren challenging his wards to keep themselves “within striking distance” of Ateneo and defending champion La Salle.
“What’s important right now, like what I told my players, we have to be within striking distance of the Top Two always and that’s been our objective,” he said.