ANTIPOLO – Ateneo is finally back in full force following the return of twins Matt and Mike Nieto to the lineup following a four-game absence in the second round of UAAP Season 81.
The twins were sidelined by a bout with dengue fever but it was later revealed that the Nietos were also dealing with injuries - Matt’s a fractured left pinky that required surgery and Mike's a sprained left foot.
Matt, however, is proud to see the Blue Eagles hardly miss a beat in their absence, thanks to the impressive pinch-hit job done by Tyler Tio and SJ Belangel.
“I’m really proud sa ginawa ng team habang wala kami ni Mike. I’m really proud sa point guards especially SJ and Tyler. They really stood their ground,” said Matt.
“Sobrang proud ako, si Tyler, second year niya lang sa UAAP so he really had to have kumpyansa. Good thing nakuha na niya confidence niya this season para pagbalik ko, dalawa na kaming main point guards,” he added.
The pair revealed it was no coincidence that they returned for the match against Adamson, which stunned Ateneo in their first-round match-up.
Aside from the satisfaction drawn from beating an old tormentor, the game also gave the Nietos a week to prepare for their rivalry match against La Salle game which is set on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“It’s really good to be back dito sa Adamson. Nung na-injure and nagkasakit ako, gusto ko bumalik kalaban Adamson. One-hundred percent ako o hindi pa, gusto ko kalabanin Adamson kasi may kinuha sila sa amin nung first round na naging motivation, inspiration namin kalabanin na ulit sila,” Matt said.
Mike admitted they are clearly not in game shape, combining to play for just 20 minutes. But he's confident he and Matt will get there in no time.
“As you can see, wala pa kami sa timing kasi ilang weeks din kaming ‘di nakapractice. Nung Wednesday lang kami naka live practice ni Matt,” said Mike.
“At least, darating din yan, extra work lang kami ni Matt this week kasi may one week naman kami mag-prepare ni Matt.”