DESPITE its overwhelming advantage, Ateneo vows no let-up against defending champion National University in the UAAP Season 77 juniors basketball finals which start on Friday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Blue Eaglets own a thrice-to-beat advantage in the championship series after completing a 14-game sweep of the two-round eliminations.
[Game One on Friday will be played at 2 p.m. and will be aired live on ABS-CBN Sports and Action 23]
The Katipunan-based school needs only to win twice over the Bullpups to reclaim the championship it lost last year.
The roles were actually reversed from last year when the Bullpups owned a thrice-to-beat edge in the finals after likewise sweeping the elimination round.
Behind Hubert Cani, NU beat Thirdy Ravena and Ateneo for the crown.
Despite what seemed to be an insurmountable advantage by the reigning champion, Ateneo star Matt Nieto said the Blue Eaglets don’t plan to relax in the finals.
“Last year, kalaban namin ang NU, sila naman ‘yung thrice-to-beat. Kaya hindi kami puwedeng maging overconfident,” said Nieto, a member of this season’s Mythical team.
Nieto said the team will try to play as if it is the one which needs to overcome a thrice-to-beat advantage.
“Dapat kami ‘yung parang naghahabol na dapat manalo ng thrice. Baliktad dapat ‘yung sitwasyon para hindi kami mag-relax. Magte-training kami na parang kami ‘yung natatalo pero maglalaro na parang nananalo,” said the twin brother of season MVP Mike Nieto.
Nieto said he and his twin have set their sights on winning a championship before moving to college where they will also play for Ateneo.
“’Yung leadership namin ni Mike, talagang binuhos na namin sa team dahil last year na namin. Hindi maganda na mag-graduate na hindi champion. Lahat ng pwede naming ilabas na motivation at inspiration, linabas na namin,” Mike said.
NU went through the stepladder playoff to gain a spot in the title series, beating De La Salle-Zobel, 61-45, on Monday.
The Bullpups are aiming for a ‘triple crown’ as they hope to join their seniors and women’s counterparts in winning a UAAP title in the same season.