ATENEO got a boost in morale in a tumultuous preseason as the Blue Eagles won the third place match in the Premier Cup over UAAP rival National University.
It was a huge finish for the Blue Eagles, especially after seven players led by CJ Perez had to be scratched from the lineup due to academic deficiency.
Assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga, who handled the squad as Tab Baldwin focused on Gilas Pilipinas, also noted Ateneo has lost around “70 percent of last year’s offense” after the departure of stars Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal, among others.
“From everything that happened in the team, from losing maybe 70 percent of our offense with Kiefer (Ravena), Von (Pessumal), Gwyne (Capacio), and Fonzo (Gotladera), to losing other of our talented teammates, we are very happy with our finish in the Filoil Cup,” said Arespacochaga.
Nigerian import Chibueze Ikeh led the Blue Eagles in the third-place match, scoring 18 points and hauling down 17 rebounds.
Another revelation was Vince Tolentino, who had 15 points for Ateneo.
“We are very happy with the improvement we have seen in our players. It’s also nice that different players stepping up in different games,” said Arespacochaga.
With the UAAP still three months away, Arespacochaga hopes to build on with their performance in the Filoil.
“We are hoping that this would be a big push for us towards our preparation in the UAAP,” said Arespacochaga.