ATENEO goes for a sweep of the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball finals on Wednesday in Game Two against archrival La Salle at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The match is set at 4 p.m. right after the individual awards ceremony at 2:45 p.m.
The Blue Eagles are seeking a ninth UAAP championship - and their first since now-Meralco coach Norman Black led the Katipunan-based squad to five straight titles in 2012.
Ateneo is on the verge of returning to the top of the UAAP basketball wars after beating La Salle in Game One, 76-70, on Saturday in front of 15,114 spectators at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Head coach Tab Baldwin expects nothing less than another physical encounter as the two teams square off once again.
Game One featured an encounter where Matt Nieto suffered a cut above one eye from an inadvertent elbow by Ben Mbala late in the second period.
“We anticipated that. You get that all the time with La Salle,” said Baldwin. “La Salle won’t be any different on Wednesday. It would be silly to think otherwise because that’s their MO (ammunition) and they are good at it.”
Thirdy Ravena finished with 12 points, while brothers Matt and Mike Nieto tallied 11 points each for the Blue Eagles in Game One.
Baldwin said he also anticipated La Salle coach Aldin Ayo to make more adjustments come Wednesday’s game.
“They made adjustments (in Game One), and we had to deal with that. We had a hard time. I don’t think we played fluid at all. I thought it was kind of a scrappy game and I guess in the cauldron of this whole atmosphere, that can be expected from young players,” said Baldwin.
Ayo didn’t speak to reporters after Game One and has continued to keep La Salle’s practices off limits to the public, as the Green Archers look to extend the series to a deciding Game Three on Sunday at the Big Dome.
The good thing going for La Salle is that the Green Archers have not lost at the Araneta Coliseum in their eight games this season. The two losses of the Blue Eagles this season, on the other hand, were played at the Big Dome.
But La Salle players knows they still have to do the job done in order to keep their clean record at the Big Dome.
“Trust me, we are going to be a different team come Game Two,” said Mbala, who was limited to only eight points in the series opener.