ATENEO doesn’t mind being the underdog against rival De La Salle in the sequel to their `Dream Game’ exhibition showdown this coming June 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
But the Eagles guarantee that they will give their fierce rivals a big fight.
“Good thing is whenever these two schools battle, you can never underestimate any team,” said Sandy Arespacochaga, who will be calling the shots for the Blue Eagles in the event dubbed `Blue vs. Green’ pitting Ateneo and La Salle players now seeing action in the PBA.
That several Blue Eagles are either nursing injuries or unavailable doesn’t help the school's bid to get even with La Salle following a 117-104 loss during last year’s edition of the charity event.
“We will be short-handed with a couple of players out, plus coach Norman (Black), too,” added Arespacochaga, Black’s trusted deputy in the Blue Eagles’ successful title runs in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament the last five years.
Big man Enrico Villanueva will be suiting up for the Katipunan-based squad, but the veteran Barako Bull center is not expected to be close to 100 percent as he is coming off an ACL injury suffered during the Philippine Cup.
Also missing from Ateneo’s lineup this year are playmaker LA Tenorio and Larry Fonacier, who will be leaving on the same day with the Gilas Pilipinas team for its Lithuania training camp.
Expected to fill the spots of the two are guards Chris Tiu and Eman Monfort.
“The last game we lost too, so I guess we will be the underdogs,” Arespacochaga added.
Also suiting up for the Blue Eagles are former UAAAP MVP Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Noy Baclao, JC Intal, Rich Alvarez, Doug Kramer, Wesley Gonzales, Paolo Bugia, Magnum Membrere, and Eric Salamat.
In contrast, the Archers are bringing back a full-strength side made up of MacMac Cardona, JV Casio, Mike Cortez, RenRen Ritualo, Joseph Yeo, Rico Maierhofer, Willy Wilson, TY Tang, Ryan Arana, Carlo Sharma, Don Allado, and rookie Simon Atkins.
Franz Pumaren, architect of La Salle’s four straight UAAP men’s basketball titles from 1998 to 2001, will again be calling the shots for the Taft-based school.