AS FAR as Norman Black is concerned, Ateneo needs to keep a lot of things in mind if the four-time defending champions are to get past the University of Santo Tomas Tigers in their UAAP men’s basketball showdown on Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
First on the check list of the Eagles mentor is big man Karim Abdul, who scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the first half of a 73-72 heartbreaker the Tigers suffered at the hands of the Far Eastern University during the opener of the league’s 75th season last Saturday.
“He (Abdul) played very, very well, so we have to find a way to slow him down,” said Black.
And then there’s also the phalanx of UST outside shooters, including Aljohn Mariano, who needs to be stopped.
“Their perimeter shooters are very good too, so that is a concern. But one thing that we also want to take care of is Mariano. Nobody is talking about him but he had a consistent summer and we have to slow him down too,” said Black.
If all goes according to plan, the Eagles are definitely looking at a second straight win and a big follow-up to their 73-57 rout of the Adamson Falcons in their debut game.
But things are easier said than done especially with the Tigers raring to bounce back from a game they should have clearly won.
“UST should have probably won that game,” said Black about UST’s painful loss against FEU. The Tamaraws completed the win in the final 5.7 seconds when RR Garcia converted into a winning lay-in the crucial turnover by Tigers team captain Jeric Fortuna.
Also gunning for a second straight win is Ateneo rival La Salle, which collides with University of the East in the 4 p.m. main game.
The Green Archers looked a little bit shaky in their 73-68 victory of the UP Maroons on Sunday ands coach Gee Abanilla is the first to admit they are still in the adjustment stage.
“A lot of our combinations didn’t work so that is something that we need to work on and get used to,” said Abanilla.
The UE Warriors are looking to pull off the season’s first upset following a 35-point blowout against host National University Bulldogs, 90-55, also on opening day.