Ateneo's Chris Newsome goes up for a basket against La Salle during their first-round match. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo Blue Eagles will look to solidify their hold on the top spot in the league standings as they take on a surging De La Salle University squad in the UAAP Season 77 men's basketball tournament Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ateneo holds a 6-1 win-loss record at the end of the first round, with their lone loss coming at the hands of the National University (NU) Bulldogs.
The defending champions Green Archers, meanwhile, rebounded from a poor start to their title-retention campaign and have now won five consecutive games.
The Blue Eagles gave the Green Archers one of their two losses this season in a game that saw Ateneo guard Kiefer Ravena explode for a then-career high 29 points to lead his team to a 97-86 victory.
La Salle has since found its form after struggling early in Season 77, but they will still be undermanned against their rivals with some of their key players suffering from injuries.
Point guard Thomas Torres remains out, while big men Arnold Van Opstal and Norbert Torres are dealing with ailments of their own as well.
"The team is growing especially coming into the second round, and hopefully we can get healthier," said La Salle head coach Juno Sauler.
Game time is at 3 p.m.
In the first game of the double-header, the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws and NU will look to break out of a three-way tie for second place.
FEU, NU and La Salle are tied in the league standings with identical 5-2 records.
The Bulldogs and the Tamaraws play at 11 a.m.