IT’s back to work for the Ateneo Blue Eagles barely two weeks after claiming a fifth consecutive UAAP crown as they begin the defense of the University Games title on October 22 in Bacolod City.
The Eagles and UAAP runner-up University of Santo Tomas head the 15-team cast in the men’s basketball tournament.
Ateneo, without top stars Greg Slaughter, Kiefer Ravena and Nico Salva, defeated West Negros University in the final last year in Roxas City, Capiz. The Eagles have yet to release their full roster for the event.
Aside from the UAAP finalists, also entered are UAAP team Adamson, Ateneo de Davao, Colegio de la Purisima Concepcion, Foundation University, Hercor College, Holy Cross of Davao College, Iloilo Doctors College, Naga College Foundation, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, University of Northern Philippines, University of San Jose-Recoletos, University of Saint La Salle, and Xavier University.
Former Ateneo coach Norman Black said that one of the keys for the Eagles’ UAAP success is their one-year preparation beginning with the Unigames, which is traditionally held just weeks after the end of the UAAP season.
“A lot of people don’t know this but we have a year-round program… We work the entire year and we pushed our players a lot,” said Black, who said that he will be there to support the Eagles in one of their games during the Unigames.
"I'll be there because we have a game against Rain or Shine," said the now Talk 'N Text mentor, referring to the Tropang Texters' match against the Elasto Painters in an out-of-town game in Victorias City, Negros Occidental.