UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas goes into its first UAAP men’s basketball game of the season without any idea what to expect against De La Salle as the two teams clash in the main game of Saturday’s opener at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Growling Tigers begin their quest for a return trip to the Finals opposite a Green Archers team that underwent a major coaching change three weeks ago by hiring Juno Sauler in place of Gee Abanilla.
Game time is set at 4 p.m.
UST coach Pido Jarencio admitted the Tigers expect a different La Salle team with Sauler now at the helm following the appointment of Abanilla as head coach of Petron in the PBA.
“Medyo ligaw kami sa La Salle under a new coach,” said Jarencio.”Hindi ko lang sila ma-scout dahil nagpalit ng coach. Siyempre ibang sistema ‘yun.”
Jarencio said he is concerned De La Salle will have an edge in scouting as UST saw action in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup where the Tigers reached the semifinals for the first time since the tournament’s inception in 2006.
“Kami medyo madali kaming ma-scout kasi lagi kaming nakikita maglaro,” said the outspoken UST mentor.
Sauler had little to say ahead of his first official game as La Salle coach, saying UST has the same caliber as the other teams.
“I see all the teams balanced so our preparations won’t be different,” he said.
But based in the two teams’ head-to-head match-up last year, expect a close encounter between the Tigers and the Archers.
The Tigers won in double overtime in the first round, but the Archers bounced back in their rematch behind the buzzer-beating jumper of Jeron Teng.
Both games had a winning margin of two points.
A sidelight in the match-up is the one-on-one battle between the Teng brothers, Jeric and Jeron.
Jeric is playing in his final season with España-based squad after playing in the Finals last season against Ateneo.
Jeron, meanwhile, is coming off a year that saw him become a part of the Mythical Five and win Rookie of the Year honors after coming out of high school from Xavier.