Ateneo braces for crunch tests against league-leaders La Salle, FEU
Coaches Sandy Arespacochaga and Tab Baldwin try to keep the Eagles on the top half of the table. Dante Peralta

ATENEO looks on track for the Final Four but with still four games in the elims, the Eagles can't afford to take things lightly.

The rejigged Blue Eagles entered Season 79 with modest goals and even though they can now aim for lofty ambitions, coaches are careful not to raise expectations.

“We still want to take it one game at a time,” said Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga. “We don’t want to look ahead. We want to stay focused and improve each day in practice.”

The Eagles have been firmly in third spot since late in the first round, but they look to play better to add to the six won games and assure passage to the semifinals.

For one, they return to action facing unbeaten league leader La Salle when the league resumes after a 10-day break.

The next match will be another huge challenge, as Ateneo takes on second-running Far Eastern University.

“As cliché at it may sound, that’s what we are doing as a team. We don’t want to look far ahead,” said Arespacochaga, one of the assistant coaches of head mentor Tab Baldwin.

Ateneo next faces University of Sto. Tomas on November 12 and still has Adamson to play on a date still to be determined. That match could turn out to be a battle for the No. 3 spot in the Final Four.

“That’s why we need to improve each game. We are just happy that we are maturing but at the same time, we recognize that we still need improvement, especially in our weak areas,” said Arespacochaga.

Arespacochaga said the Blue Eagles hope to get support from different sources, as seen in their last two victories with Jolo Mendoza, Raffy Verano, and Isaac Go taking charge to complement the efforts of veterans Thirdy Ravena, Anton Asistio, and Aaron Black.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

“We hope to have more players who will step up,” said Arespacochaga.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports