La Salle braces for war vs Ateneo as bitter rivals clash to close first round battles in Season 80
Tab Baldwin and Aldin Ayo figure in another anticipated coaching battle as Ateneo and La Salle face off. 

LA Salle looks to hand Ateneo its first defeat on Sunday as the archrivals clash in the final day of the first round of the UAAP Season 80 men's basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Green Archers and the Blue Eagles begin the first of two elimination round meetings in the UAAP this season at 4 p.m.

Like in their previous match-ups, La Salle doesn't need any special motivation in its match-up against Ateneo.

"I will just give you a sentence. It's Ateneo-La Salle," said La Salle big man Ben Mbala. "It means everything. We know what is at stake. It's blue against green. No matter what will happen, when we step on the court, it's war."

"We are just going to play until the last second. We are going to give everything," Mbala said.

La Salle beat University of the East, 106-100, on Wednesday to claim its second straight win going into its match against Ateneo. The Green Archers are aiming to tie the Blue Eagles on top of the standings with a win on Sunday.

But for Ricci Rivero, the team standings is the last thing in his mind against Ateneo.

"Siguro, 'yung sa standings, wala sa amin 'yun. Hindi namin iniisip 'yun. One game at a time lang. If Ateneo, so be it," said Rivero.

La Salle faced Ateneo in the UAAP for the first time since beating the team via sweep of the best-of-three finals series last year.

Mbala, however, sees a different Ateneo team from the last occasion La Salle faced them.

"They are an improved team. They play better than last year. You just look at their record, 6-0, meaning they will come prepared.

"But I believe in my teammates and I'm sure the coaching staff is going to have a great game plan to be able to compete against them. At the end of the day, we just have to enjoy the game and play hard," said Mbala.

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