Defending champion Ateneo De Manila University, unbeaten in 12 games, is eyeing a rare sweep of the 14-game elimination round when it faces an already ousted National University (NU) in Season 82 University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament today at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
The two-time champions Blue Eagles (12-0) will meet the cellar-dwelling Bulldogs (2-10) at 2 p.m.
In the 4 p.m. second game, University of Sto. Tomas (UST) seeks to get its Final Four bid back on track against also-ran Adamson University.
Assured of the top seed even before its 84-50 domination of University of the East (UE) last Sunday, Ateneo is keen to pull off an elims sweep that was last achieved by the Mark Borboran and Paul Lee-led UE in 2007.
Veteran coach Tab Baldwin said that the Eagles will take it one game at a time.
“We’re just thinking of NU. For any team in this position, things like undefeated seasons, sweeps — they happen because you take it one step at a time and not because you make some grand statement about how good you are in front of a microphone,” said Baldwin.
“Hopefully, when we step up against NU, we’ll be prepared for that game. They will be the center of our attention and I hope we’ll take care of business,” added the American-Kiwi mentor.
Veteran players Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go, Matt Nieto and the 6-foot-10 Ivorian center Ange Kouame will lead the Eagles. Ateneo almost accomplished a sweep in Season 80.
The Eagles routed NU, 71-50, in the first round.
Meanwhile, No. 3 UST (7-6) will try to rebound from a 79-80 loss to De La Salle University that spoiled its chance to secure a Final Four seat last Wednesday.
Star recruit Rhenz Abando led the Growling Tigers’ to a late comeback but he stepped on the three-point line while firing a long jumper, failing to send the game to overtime.
The Soaring Falcons (4-8) are just out to play a spoilers’ game after being eliminated out of the semifinal race with a 60-63 loss to Far Eastern University last Wednesday.