Ate­neo col­lides with ‘dif­fer­ent’ AdU to­day

Manila Bulletin - - Sports - By JEROME LAGUNZAD

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.

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