Bullpups look to complete upset as Blue Eaglets raring to go all out in finals decider
After a physical Game 2 that took its toll on both teams, the Bullpups and Eaglets face off one last time for the right to be crowned this season's champion. Marlo Cueto

ATENEO and National University face off one last time for the UAAP Season 80 juniors basketball title on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

The rubber match is scheduled at 4 p.m.

Ateneo defeated NU, 86-70, in Game One last week, but the Bullpups came back with a 70-67 win over the Blue Eaglets, who lost their chance of sweeping the entire season with the defeat.

With the Blue Eaglets defeat, the Bullpups remained the last team to ever sweep the UAAP juniors, doing the feat in 2013.

NU coach Goldwin Monteverde sees a psychological edge heading into the do-or-die game.

“Definitely meron. This is the fourth time we played each other, ngayon lang kami nanalo. ‘Yung belief na kaya namin, ‘yun ang importante. Hopefully, that belief will stick with us,” said Monteverde.

Miguel Oczon was the hero in Game One, finishing with 17 points and five rebounds.

The Bullpups, however, will miss one of their key players in Cyril Gonzales, who was ejected in Game Two for his role in the scuffle with Ateneo’s Allen Tanedo and Amchel Angeles.

Gonzales was thrown out and slapped with an automatic one-game suspension after he retaliated to Tanedo’s swipe to the head with a kick. Tanedo and Angeles were suspended for flagrant acts of aggression during the incident that occurred in the third period.

Ateneo coach Joe Silva admitted NU wanted to win Game Two more than his team as proof of the Bullpups’ edge in hustle statistics particularly the 26-13 disparity in offensive rebounds.

“If you see the field goal percentage, ang baba pero ‘yung offensive rebounds, they killed us. That was the ball game. Turnover points also. Those plays are hustle plays,” said Silva.

Kai Sotto had a triple-double in Game One that included 11 blocks but was limited to 10 points, eight rebounds, and five blocks.

Silva felt distraction could have also played a role in his struggles perhaps due to the media attention after his triple-double performance.

“I can’t speak for Kai. Baka distraction. Maraming media attention after Game One tapos he received his Mythical Five award. Hindi naman siguro lumabas ‘yung pagkabata niya pero he was not his self (in Game Two),” said Silva.

Monteverde hopes NU will continue its strong play to pull off a big upset in beating Ateneo in the best-of-three series.

“Mas disciplined lang siguro ‘yung defense namin. We gave up a lot of easy shots in Game One. Mas may open looks ang Ateneo nung first game,” said Monteverde.


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