League-leader Ateneo de Manila University tries to extend its unbeaten start to five games as it faces the winless University of Santo Tomas (UST) in the main game of Season 80 University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles, holding the solo top spot with an immaculate 4-0 win-loss mark, are the heavy favorites in their 4 p.m. encounter against the Growling Tigers, who are sharing the bottom wth University of the East (UE) with 0-4 slate.
In the opener, Far Eastern University (FEU) and National University (NU) clash for solo fourth spot at 2 p.m.
Ateneo has been dominant so far halfway of the first round, winning its first four matches by an average of 17.8 points per game.
But head coach Sandy Arespacochaga said the team is not concerned with the winning margin as they are focusing on their progress.
“We’re not really looking at the outcome of the game in terms of points. The most important thing we want to see is for us to be consistent and hopefully, wins will come, whether it be by two points or a big lead,” said Arespacochaga.
Against UST, the long-time Blue Eagles mentor said they can’t think of their record as the Growling Tigers are capable of pulling of surprises in the tournament.
“We can’t be complacent and we can’t think that we are 4-0. We can’t fall into the trap of looking and enjoying our record. We’ve got to stay focused on our next game,” Arespacochaga added.
Thirdy Ravena has been the team’s anchor both on offense and defense and he’s getting solid support from his teammates.
Meanwhile, the Growling Tigers need to bring their best game in order to pull off an upset win and head coach Boy Sablan needs Steve Akomo and Marvin Lee to be consistent all game long to stand a chance against Ateneo.
In the opener, NU and FEU are currently tied at 2-2 and the winner gets the sole possession of the fourth spot behind defending champion La Salle and University of the Philippines (UP), which are locked at 3-1.
The Tamaraws of head coach Olsen Racela are coming off a 78-65 win over UST while the Bulldogs of mentor Jamike Jarin dropped their last game to Adamson University, 76-83.
“It will be a tough schedule for us. NU is really playing with a lot of confidence and also with UP. We have to grind out a win against those teams,” said Racela, whose wards face the confident Fighting Maroons this Sunday.