De La Salle University aims to finish archrival Ateneo De Manila University in Game 2 of the best-of-three finals of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 79 men’s basketball tournament today at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Green Archers and the Blue Eagles will collide at 3:30 p.m. after the 2 p.m. awarding ceremony.
Despite a 1-0 advantage, La Salle coach Aldin Ayo is expecting a tough Game 2. A victory by the Green Archers will give La Salle its ninth UAAP title but Ayo said it is easier said than done.
“Ateneo is a tough team and we need to stay focused,” said Ayo. “There is nothing to celebrate yet. To win Game 2, everyone has to contribute well, no one can be missing. If we play as a team, we’ll end it on Wednesday.”
Skipper Jeron Teng said that his teammates must play better basketball than what they did in Game 1. Teng scored only10 points in Game 1 but made the important shot in crunch time that resulted in their victory.
“I expect to be better and play better,” said Teng. “I told my teammates to play better and don’t get nervous.”
Rookie Ben Mbala, who will received the Most Valuable Player plum in the awarding ceremony, will lead the Green Archers anew in Game 2. He finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds in Game 1.
“We started strong but we didn’t sustain the same performance in the second half,” said the 6’7 Cameroonian who averaged 20.6 points, 16 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in the elimination round. “We are hoping to sustain the same intensity from beginning until the end.”
“We are hoping to execute well in our offense no matter what their defense is.”
Rookie of the Year Aljun Melecio, Abu Tratter, Prince Rivero, Kib Montalbo, Thomas Torres, Jason Perkins, Andrei Caracut and Recci Rivero, will support Teng and Mbala.
The Blue Eagles, on the other hand, are bent on forcing a sudden death Game 3 on Saturday. Although outclassed by the Green Archers in the first half of Game 1, the Blue Eagles fought and engage their rivals in a tight battle in the second half.
“In practice, we went over the things we did wrong and our adjustments for Wednesday. We know we are up against a strong team and the favored team,” Ateneo deputy coach Sandy Arespacochaga told The Manila Times via text message.
“But we don’t want to be distracted with the hype and distractions. We want to focus on the next game and the things we need to do for that game.”
Ateneo, under coach Tab Baldwin will rely heavily on Aaron Black, swingman Thirdy Ravena, big man Isaac Go, Mike Nieto, Adrian Wong, Rafael Verano, Tony Asistio, big man Chibueze Ikeh and Matthew Nieto, in foiling La Salle’s attempt to seal the win in Game 2.