ATENEO coach Norman Black would rather keep his cards close to his chest on the eve of the Eagles' first showdown of the season with arch-rival La Salle on Saturday.
The Eagles are the defending four-time champions and have won five of their past league meetings with the Archers, but Black knows it will be a different La Salle team they will facing in the 4 p.m. encounter at the MOA Arena.
“The (La Salle) game is going to be another tough one,” said Black, who is in his final season with the Eagles before returning to the PBA by way of Talk 'N Text. “We will surely come out and ready to go.”
The Archers have been reinvigorated by the arrival of a couple of new players led by Jeron Teng, the high school phenom who in just a few games in college has shown that he is for real.
"Off to DLSU practice. Can't wait for tomorrow," Teng tweeted on the eve of his first La Salle-Ateneo showdown.
The Archers have also shown that they will be a lot more competitive against Ateneo this season after beating the Eagles, 62-59, during an impressive run in the Filoil Cup preseason tournament.
“They are a much-improved team and they had a good recruitment period. It’s starting to pay dividends for them,” admitted Black.
The Archers, however, are coming off their first defeat of the season, 48-46, against Far Eastern University last Sunday.
The Eagles, on the other hand, bounced back from a shock defeat to University of Santo Tomas by handing pre-tournament favorites National University an 89-65 beating.
Both La Salle and Ateneo carry similar 2-1 (win-loss) slates in a tie with NU for second place behind idle FEU (3-0).
Meanwhile, NU and UST seek a second consecutive victory when they collide in the opening game at 11 a.m.
Left with only one day to prepare, NU coach Eric Altamirano said the Bulldogs’ preparation is more on the mental aspect following its 67-50 win over University of the Philippines Thursday.
“We have to forget about our game against UP because we are playing tougher teams starting with UST,” Altamirano said.
UST is coming off a morale boosting 71-70 win over Ateneo, but has not played since July 19 after its match against UP last July 21 was postponed due to tropical depression ‘Pedring.’
“They have the veterans and the confidence, so we really have to be ready against UST,” Altamirano said.
The Tigers have an even 1-1 card.