AFTER two long years, the fans are back in the stands when the UAAP Season 84 men's basketball tournament opens the Mall of Asia Arena doors on Tuesday.
It's a huge development for the collegiate league as school spirit will be back in full display at the venues.
"What I'm excited about is for the people of the Philippines to be back where they belong supporting their teams. The students, the alumni will be back in the stadium enjoying the atmosphere and they can see that there are good teams this year," said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.
La Salle counterpart Derick Pumaren added: "We're really excited about it after almost two years that there's no crowd. Hopefully, the supporters will be able to pump up the team especially when we're down and when things are not going right for us. They could be a big help, our sixth man."
The fans' return will just be the backdrop for another loaded Tuesday quadruple-header.
Dave and Shaun Ildefonso clash for the first time in UAAP seniors basketball.
Ildefonso brothers Dave and Shaun face off for the first time after the former departed Jhocson when the unbeaten Ateneo (4-0) face off against the always gritty National University (2-2). The brothers have been blunt in their approach to their 7 p.m. faceoff and safe to say, both sons of legend Danny Ildefonso won't pull punches against each other.
THREE'S A PARTY
University of Santo Tomas (2-2) has been one of the pleasant surprises this season, but their three-point shooting will be put to the test against La Salle (3-1) at 10 a.m. The Green Archers rank no. 2 in three-point shooting through four games at 29.4-percent, with the Growling Tigers not far behind at no. 3 at 29.3-percent.
CJ Cansino and the Maroons eye their fourth win in five games.
SHOW OF FORCE
The strength of University of the Philippines (3-1) was in full display in its 81-66 rout of UE on Saturday and it will try to stretch its win streak to four when it faces another lowly team in Adamson (1-3) at 1 p.m.
Pressure is on for Far Eastern University (1-3) to halt its three-game skid when it faces winless University of the East (0-4) at 4 p.m. It's an unexpected and admittedly disappointing start for the Tamaraws who came into the season with legitimate championship aspirations, and a win over the Red Warriors could probably be the reboot they badly need midway through the first round.
RJ Abarrientos is eager to get back on track after his 33-point game went to waste.
PLAYER TO WATCH
RJ Abarrientos waxed hot in FEU's last game against NU, lighting up for eight triples for his 33 points. However, that ended in a shocking 73-68 defeat that brought the Morayta crew skidding. The question now is can the Gilas Pilipinas guard find a way to involve his teammates and not carry the Tamaraws' cross all by his lonesome?