MANILA, Philippines – The National University (NU) Bulldogs will seek its second victory over the Ateneo Blue Eagles this season as the two squads meet in the second round of the UAAP Season 77 men's basketball tournament Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
NU gave Ateneo their first loss of the season when they played in the first round, and Coach Eric Altamirano's players are aiming to repeat that win this afternoon.
The Bulldogs are coming off another huge victory over the Adamson Falcons, but Altamirano warned that they need a better performance against the Blue Eagles, who are tied on top of the league standings along with De La Salle University and Far Eastern University.
"We committed 27 turnovers (against Adamson)," Altamirano noted. "I think this is the most that we committed this season, and it's something that we need to address… against Ateneo."
"We cannot afford to play the way we played today, especially the way we handled the press, so we have to come out prepared against Ateneo," he also said.
Ateneo is also on the heels of a big victory, having beaten the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors in their previous game, which saw MVP candidate Kiefer Ravena again come up big in the clutch.
"We have to move on (from this game)," Ravena said after the win last Wednesday. "We have to focus on NU."
"Isang talo namin sila noong first round, and they're coming off a big win against Adamson, so they have the momentum. We also have to rest and recover to play another grind-it-out game on Sunday," he added.
A victory for Ateneo will give them the solo lead in the league standings once again.
Game time is at 4 p.m.
In the first game of the double-header, the UE Red Warriors try to recover from their loss to Ateneo by playing the still winless Adamson Falcons at 2:00 p.m.
UE star guard Roi Sumang said they have to consider their games as "do-or-die" affairs from now on as the Red Warriors have a 4-5 record, tied with the University of Santo Tomas for fifth place.
"Do-or-die talaga," said Suang. "Dapat eto pa lang Ateneo eh, hindi talaga namin nakugha. Talo talaga kami."
Meanwhile, the Falcons have been officially eliminated from Final Four contention after their loss to NU last week, which was their ninth consecutive defeat of the season.
Their veterans remain hopeful that they can win at least one game this season, however.
"Last year ko na, ayoko ng wala kaming panalo," said forward Don Trollano.