ATENEO coach Norman Black expects a highly defensive game when the Eagles clash with streaking De La Salle in yet another highly anticipated UAAP match-up between the arch-rivals.
The Blue Eagles and Green Archers – who own college basketball’s biggest rivalry - put their respective winning streaks on the line in the 4 p.m. match before another expected SRO crowd at the Araneta Coliseum.
The defending champion Eagles have a seven-game winning streak and are in a familiar role as the top team in the standings with an 8-1 win-loss card.
But the Archers have been on a roll of late, winning four games in a row to move up at fourth place with a 6-3 slate, half-a-game ahead of host National University (6-4).
Although La Salle’s winning streak has been credited more to rookie sensation Jeron Teng, Black said it is the Green Archers’ defense that’s been carrying them to victories.
“They have been playing very, very well, so it’s another tough contest for us,” said Black, “especially now that they have improved their defense. They are winning not because of offense but defense.”
Statistics show La Salle is No. 1 in the league in points and field goal percentages allowed, with Ateneo just right behind its arch-rival.
“We consider ourselves a good defensive team so it’s going to be a good match-up,” Black added.
Still, La Salle coach Gee Abanilla considers his shorthanded team as underdogs against the four-time reigning champion.
Abanilla is hoping LA Revilla and Yutien Andrada, who missed two straight games with a sprained ankle, can play a hundred percent against the Blue Eagles as the Archers try to stay ahead of the Bulldogs in the leaderboard.
“If you are facing a team like Ateneo, you have to be complete. You have to bring your experience to the game. We’ll just do our best,” Abanilla said.
Teng extended La Salle’s winning streak on Wednesday following his buzzer-beating jumper that beat University of Santo Tomas in a thriller, 53-51.
In the first game, Adamson hopes to play the spoiler's role when it takes on UST at 12 noon.
The Falcons won for only the second time in 10 outings after defeating University of the Philippines, 75-70, on Thursday. The school is already out of contention for a Final Four berth.
“Kahit papano lalaban kami, ang role namin ngayon ‘yung pagiging spoiler. Baka may masilat pa kami sa taas,” said Adamson coach Leo Austria.
After a string of six straight victories, the Tigers lost two of their last three games but are still within striking distance of the top spot as they are in a tie with Far Eastern University for second place with a 7-3 record.