WHAT it failed to accomplish in the UAAP, University of Santo Tomas hopes to realize in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League as the Tigers gun for the championship against the Ateneo Blue Eagles Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.
Game Two of the Finals is set at 4 p.m. with the Tigers eyeing a sweep of the best-of-three series to avenge their loss to the Eagles in the UAAP Finals last month.
UST won the opener, 82-76, on Tuesday to move a win away from claiming its first PCCL crown.
Coach Pido Jarencio is again in doubt to call the shots for the Espana-based team after contracting measles, but the Tigers are confident of repeating over their UAAP conquerors.
UST top gunner Jeric Teng, however, knows Ateneo won’t give them the title on a silver platter, the reason he and the Tigers are determined to double their effort in Game Two.
“Yes, confident naman kami, pero we know na hindi magiging madali ‘yun,” said Teng. “We have to play better as a team.”
Teng, who is set to become UST’s team captain next season, also believes the Tigers’ experience of playing in the UAAP Finals helped them grow individually and as a team.
“Siguro the difference is we learned a lot noong UAAP,” he said. “And now we are playing with no pressure.”
Winning the championship would also serve as fitting gift to their graduating teammates, which the Tigers failed to do in Season 75 of the UAAP, according to Teng.
“Yes, ito na ang last chance, sana mabigay ko na sa kanila ‘yun,” he said of graduating teammates Jeric Fortuna and Melo Afuang.
But the Blue Eagles will be counting on their experience to thwart the Tigers’ title bid.
Ateneo is seeing action in its fifth straight PCCL Finals, after finishing runners-up to La Salle in 2008 and San Sebastian last year, while winning the championship in back-to-back fashion in 2009 and 2010.
The Eagles hope to get another good offensive game from Ryan Buenafe, who led the team with 15 points in the Game One loss, while looking for star players Kiefer Ravena, Greg Slaughter, and Nico Salva to step up their game.