TWO weeks before Season 76 of the UAAP men’s basketball tournament comes off the wraps, injuries remain a concern for reigning five-time champion Ateneo Blue Eagles.
Head coach Bo Perasol admitted the team is still struggling to be healthy following its surprising pullout from the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup.
Despite holding the top spot in the group stages, the Katipunan-based school decided to pull out of the Filoil tournament prior to the playoffs as injuries to key players mounted.
Perasol said the team remains cautious, playing only in two tune-up games after aborting its campaign in the Filoil meet following a huge win over nemesis De La Salle last June 1.
“Sayang nga talaga. Kaya lang we need to err on the side of caution with just one healthy big man,” Perasol said.
Ateneo’s frontcourt has been badly hit after JP Erram (MCL), Gboy Babilonia (shoulder), and Gwyne Capacio (hamstring) suffered injuries during the preseason, leaving fifth-year center Frank Golla as the only healthy legitimate center in the roster.
One positive development for the Blue Eagles is the possible return of Von Pessumal, who appeared on his way to recovering from a finger injury he sustained early in the preseason campaign.
Perasol said Pessumal already suited up in the Eagles’ tune-up game against Technological Institute of the Philippines last Friday, making him fit enough just before the new season kicks off on June 29.
The Blue Eagles open their title-retention bid against National University on June 30 at the Mall of Asia Arena.