ATENEO looks to finish off National University to complete a rare season sweep in the UAAP Season 80 juniors tournament on Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Center.
Coming off a masterful 86-70 victory in the finals opener over the Bullpups last Friday, the Blue Eaglets are now a win away from completing a perfect season and winning their first title since 2014 when they still had the likes of Jolo Mendoza and the Nieto twins, Matt and Mike.
Curiously, the last team to complete a 16-game sweep of the tournament was the Bullpups under the tutelage of Jeff Napa in 2013, winning the title at the Blue Eaglets’ expense.
Though they’d want nothing more than to return the favor, Ateneo coach Joe Silva insisted that payback was not the main goal of the Blue Eaglets. Despite his players’ lack of experience in playing in the finals, Silva and his coaching staff focused on preparing the young Ateneo cagers physically and mentally for the series.
“Sabi ko lang sa kanila, wala tayong dapat ipangamba, wala tayong dapat ikaba, we prepared well for this. Wala kaming signs of rust, walang ganun,” said Silva.
“Sinabi ko stay composed because ang team na may composure wins. Sabi ko rin sa kanila ‘none of you have made it to the finals, your coaches have made it to three finals in the juniors and some more in the seniors, so kung di kayo makikinig sa amin, wala kayong pupuntahan,’ yun ang advantage namin,” he added.
That doesn’t mean they’d be given the title on a silver platter, though.
Silva is aware of the danger that the Bullpups present, especially with the firepower that they have behind gunners Terrence Fortea and Miguel Oczon.
Their bigs in Rhayyan Amsali and Paolo Javillonar will also have a score to settle as they got dominated by Kai Sotto, who finished with 22 points, 16 rebounds and 11 blocks in the Game One win.
“For sure NU will give their everything, because pag natalo na, wala na eh,” said Silva.
“But as for us, we’ll take it one game at a time, lagi namin ginagawa. Di namin iniisip na panapos ito, we’ll just do our jobs and do our roles and let’s see on Tuesday.”