Ateneo De Manila University takes on Adamson University, as National University (NU) battles University of the East (UE) in the opening salvo of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 80 men’s basketball tournament today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Tagged as title-contenders, the Blue Eagles and the Soaring Falcons collide in the main game at 4 p.m. while the Bulldogs and the Red Warriors clash at 2 p.m.
The Eagles cruised into the playoff round last season with a 10-4 win-loss record and even entered the finals after ousting 2015 champion Far Eastern University only to surrender the crown to archrival De La Salle University.
The Falcons, on the other hand, made it to the top four with an 8-6 card but lost to eventual titlist La Salle.
Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga and Adamson head coach Franz Pumaren see a tight match-up in their first meeting this season.
“We know that they are a good team and they have very good players. We’re excited. We know that it’s going to be a tough game,” said Arespacochaga.
“We’re still in the dark right now because we last played against Ateneo seven months ago. It is going to be tough preparing when you don’t know what is in store for you,” said Pumaren.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs look to get back to the Final Four after falling out for the first time in five years as they wound up with a 5-9 slate last year.
The Red Warriors, who are parading an All-Filipino lineup for this season, try to climb out of the bottom and improve their 3-11 finish.
“We have to be ready for NU because when we played against them in the finals of an invitational, we got blown out. We just have to come out and be ready for them,” said UE mentor Derrick Pumaren.
“One thing is for sure, this will be a very competitive game. I think both Coach Derrick and I would agree that the speed limit will be off (in our game),” said NU rookie coach Jamike Jarin.