EVEN with a new-look team, Ateneo coach Bo Perasol believes the winning tradition of the Blue Eagles will live on as they seek a sixth straight UAAP men’s basketball championship.
Although top star Kiefer Ravena will be back for another tour of duty, the reigning five-time champions no longer have Greg Slaughter and Nico Salva in its roster while most of its big men are currently sidelined with injuries, raising fears that Ateneo’s cage dynasty is at an end.
But Perasol begged to disagree, stressing the winning mentality of the holdovers will be a major factor in extending the school’s title run.
“Sanay manalo ‘yung mga players,” said Perasol on Thursday. “Kung meron man kaming edge, ‘yung hindi kami sanay matalo. Kapag matalo, gagawa sila ng paraan sa susunod na laro para manalo.”
“Nakikita ko ‘yung winning attitude na kahit undersized and undermanned, unchanging ‘yung expectations ng team. Nakikita ko na puwede ‘yun magdala sa amin,” said the man who took over the reins from Norman Black, now with Talk `N Text in the PBA.
Unlike in previous seasons, the Blue Eagles are not considered the top favorite as other teams made significant improvements on their rosters.
Perasol, however, thinks his team will still be a threat this season once centers like JP Erram becomes a hundred percent healthy.
“If our big men will be 100 percent healthy, I think we will still be right there. ‘Yun lang talaga ang kulang namin because we have a lot of good guards already,” said the former Powerade head coach.
Erram suffered an MCL injury in the preseason but is expected to suit up for the team’s opener against National University on Sunday.
Perasol also said he will continuously work hard to make the Blue Eagles a championship contender while at the same time, make sure to build on the future of the team.
“In the next two to three years, hindi ko alam kung anong mangyayari sa akin as coach, but gusto kong mangyari, bago ako umalis dito, may ma-build uli tayo na formidable lineup for the university. It’s our desire to win a championship. But we want to make sure na mas solid lagi ang lineup namin, said Perasol.
“Masyadong unfair sa mga sumusuporta especially kay MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan). We are going to make sure that we are in a fighting position lagi,” added the Ateneo mentor.