UAAP Basketball

Top seed Ateneo stays wary of battle-worn Adamson, La Salle

JR Isaga
Top seed Ateneo stays wary of battle-worn Adamson, La Salle

MENTOR. Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin instructs forward Kai Ballungay at the UAAP Season 85 men's basketball tournament

UAAP Season 85 Media Team

Ateneo refuses to sit idly by amid a crucial one-week break as the Blue Eagles intently scout the fourth-seed playoff between Adamson and La Salle

MANILA, Philippines – From the comforts of their homes, the Ateneo Blue Eagles will have the privilege of watching the Adamson Soaring Falcons and the La Salle Green Archers tear each other to shreds at 6 pm on Sunday, December 4, for the right to face them at the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball Final Four.

After clinching the top seed with a win against Adamson last Wednesday, November 30, the Season 84 runners-up also earned a one-week break by triggering the fourth-seed playoff between the Falcons and the Archers, who both own a 7-7 record at the end of the eliminations.

However, the Eagles are not resting on their laurels as they scout the opposition atop a familiar perch following their fifth straight top-seed finish.

“I think one big advantage for us is they’re going to be knocking each other out, and we’re going to be resting and practicing and preparing, and we’re going to be watching the next game. I think that’s a very big advantage for us,” said longtime Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.

“[The] disadvantage, probably they have momentum going into our game, ’cause it’s quite a while before we play them, so they have that advantage. Hopefully, it would be more to our advantage rather than to them that they had one more crucial knockout game.”

Once the dust settles between Adamson and La Salle, a primed Ateneo squad will be waiting in the wings starting Wednesday, December 7, as second-seed UP and third-ranked NU also begin their Final Four war.

Although the Falcons have dealt with major injuries in their campaign so far, the Nash Racela-coached squad is getting healthier by the day as core pieces Jerom Lastimosa and Vince Magbuhos continue to ramp up their workloads alongside the resurgent AP Manlapaz and consistent anchor Lenda Douanga.

Meanwhile, the Derick Pumaren-mentored Archers will have to erase a lot of question marks regarding their personnel on the fly as their top guys like Schonny Winston, Michael Phillips, and Kevin Quiambao fend off separate health issues at the most critical juncture of their season.

Ateneo is likely well aware of the issues hounding its eventual Final Four opponent, but that only gives the Eagles more reasons to stay on guard amid all the uncertainties they will face along the way.

“It’s the Final Four already, and we can’t get too caught up in the [fact] we’re No. 1. We all know that entering the Final Four, it’s a whole new ball game,” Arespacochaga said.

“We’re going to make sure that we don’t relax or let our guard down. We really have to be ready [for] whomever wins [between] Adamson or La Salle.” –

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