A MORE cohesive University of Santo Tomas goes for a share of the lead while a suddenly undermanned National University tries to show resilience when the two teams collide in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tigers are eyeing their third win in as many games and a share of the top spot with idle Far Eastern University.
UST and NU collide at 4 p.m., with the Bulldogs hoping to have made the necessary adjustments after losing big man Alfred Aroga, the 6-foot-6 Cameroonian import ruled ineligible by the league this year as he has yet to complete the two-year residency for foreign players.
While noting NU is still formidable at the middle with 6-foot-7 Cameroonian Emmanuel Mbe, UST coach Pido Jarencio said the Bulldogs will still have to make adjustments in their game.
“Sila (Bulldogs) ’yun eh, sila ang mag-aadjust,” said Jarencio.
The Tigers are off to a 2-0 start, winning their second match 67-62 over Adamson on Saturday with Kevin Ferrer and Jeric Teng scoring 17 and 15 points, respectively.
Jarencio believes that this early, his players are already comfortable with his substitution patterns.
“Kami adjusted na. Kahit wala sila Jeric at Kevin (sa game), may mga players na nandiyan para pagbalik nila, mas okay na ’yung laro namin,” said Jarencio.
“Itong team na ito, medyo beteran na maglaro kaya kahit anong sitwayson, nakakapag-adjust kami,” said Jarencio.
NU coach Eric Altamirano, though, says they only have to “tweak it a little” as they go for their second win in three games.
“We got used to the having him in the preseason. We have to tweak it a little now knowing that he won’t be here anymore,” said Altamirano.
NU is also expected to be without assistant coach Vic Ycasiano, who has been slapped with a one-game suspension for a "threatening gesture" to University of the East center Charles Mammie on Saturday.
In the curtain-raiser, University of the East goes for its second straight win when it takes on Adamson at 2 p.m.
The Red Warriors are coming off a rousing 71-67 victory over NU, a win that evened their card after losing to Far Eastern University in the opener.
Roi Sumang was the hero in that game, nailing an improbable four-point play to make it to the win column.
The Recto-based cagers are looking to bring that winning attitude against the Falcons.
“The most important thing in the UAAP is the first win,” UE coach Boycie Zamar said. “Hopefully, we bring this against Adamson. We respect them but we have to work hard in our teamwork on offense and defense.”
Adamson, meanwhile, looks to get back to its winning ways after bowing to UST over the weekend.
The Falcons also return to the site where some of the players’ belongings were stolen in a dugout heist while the game against UST was going on.