Blue Eagles begin hunt for finals berth

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ATENEO De Manila University starts its campaign for a finals berth when it takes on National University (NU) at 4 p.m. today in the Final Four stage of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 77 men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.

“The big men of NU create a lot of mismatches and we need to adjust. We have to win tomorrow [Wednesday],” Coach Bo Perasol of the Blue Eagles told The Manila Times on Tuesday. “At the same time, I remind my players not to be complacent about our twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four.”

Perasol is pertaining to their various attempts to stop the Bulldogs’ tall frontliners 6’6 Troy Rosario and 6’7 Cameroonian Alfred Aroga since last season.

Perasol, whose team finished the elimination round with 11-3 card, will lean on this season’s Most Valuable Player Kiefer Ravena, Rookie of the Year Arvin Tolentino, Von Pessumal, Chris Newsome and Nico Elorde, among others.

“We can’t allow NU to force a do-or-die game,” he added.

Bulldogs head coach Eric Altamirano said that Final Four is a different battlefield.

“Final Four is very different compared to elimination round games,” said Altamirano, whose team needs to win twice against the mighty Blue Eagles.

The Bulldogs, who survived a tough knockout battle against the University of the East Red Warriors (51-49) on Saturday for the last Final Four berth are expecting an all-out battle from the Blue Eagles.

Ateneo, which has the twice-to-beat advantage after taking the No. 1 spot, lost 64-60 and 76-66 to NU in the two-game elimination round.

Besides Aroga and Rosario, NU will also bank also on the prowess of Gelo Alolino, Glenn Khobuntin, Kyle Neypes and Rodolfo Alejandro in their fight against Ateneo.

The game between Far Eastern University and reigning champion De La Salle University, the other Final Four pairing, is scheduled on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The Tamaraws secured the second twice-to-beat edge in the Final Four.

Ateneo and FEU are both armed with a twice-to-beat edge. A win by any of the two teams means automatic entry into the finals. If they lose, they have to face NU and La Salle in a do-or-die game.

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