Eagles, Archers clash for pride, 2nd place
MANILA, Philippines - Archrivals Ateneo and La Salle clash in a highly anticipated Round 2 duel in UAAP Season 76 today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, where so much, aside from pride and the burning desire to best the other, is at stake.
The rivals sit in a share of third spot with identical 6-4 going to the 4 p.m. duel, and both can’t wait to extricate from the logjam and move up the standings, closer to the frontrunners.
Both teams enjoy a hot streak that they want to sustain as the race to the Final Four heats up, with the Blue Eagles unbeaten in their last four assignments dating back to the first round and the Green Archers spotless in their last three.
The result of their first meeting this year went La Salle’s way, 82-73, in a game that saw a Kiefer Ravena-less Ateneo even take a 12-point lead at the halfway point.
That game ended with Ateneo’s third straight loss to begin the season, their worst since a 0-4 start in 1997.
But a lot had happened since that July 7 encounter.
Ravena, absentee last time, has since returned and with him, the Ateneans clawed their way back into the upper rungs of the standings.
The Archers had also gotten better since that meeting, where they actually pulled off their first win over their rivals since the first round of Season 73.
Both teams heralded their return to the elite with masterful triumphs over the once mighty Far Eastern U the past week. Ateneo routed the struggling Tams, 92-73, last Wednesday, 10 days after La Salle dealt FEU a 75-66 defeat.
“Everytime Ateneo plays against La Salle, it’s always special. More so that we are tied and are both jockeying for spots in the Final Four,” said AdMU coach Bo Perasol.
For DLSU mentor Juno Sauler, it’s better to view the blockbuster showdown as just another game they want to win.
“No different from how the team plays every ball game. It’s always the same mindset and discipline in regards to what we do and what we can control,” Sauler said.
In the first game slated at 12 noon, the FEU Tams (8-3) try to solidify their hold of the lead when they battle University of Santo Tomas (5-5).