MANILA, Philippines – The four-time defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles are bracing for a tough series against the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers in the UAAP Season 75 Finals.
Indeed, the Eagles are expecting this season’s Finals to be the most difficult series that they’ve played.
“I think this will be the most difficult championship series that we’ll play against UST,” Ateneo team manager Paolo Trillo said during the PSA Forum Tuesday, as quoted by The Philippine Star.
The two squads split their games in the Season 75 elimination round, and both games were extremely close. UST rallied from a 19-point deficit to win by a single point, 71-70, in the first round. In the second round, the Eagles got their revenge with a two-point victory, 68-66, in a protest-marred game.
“UST is a very well-rounded team,” Ateneo head coach Norman Black said following the Blue Eagles’ Final Four victory against De La Salle last Saturday. “They have the guards, they have the small forwards, they have the bigs.”
During the PSA Forum, Trillo agreed, saying: “If you look at the line-up of UST, they’re a complete team. In every position, they have some sort of main man.”
“Of course, there’s (Karim) Abdul, who, stats-wise, is one of the top players in the league. They also have scorers like (Jeric) Teng, (Kevin) Ferrer... and their point guard, (Jeric) Fortuna who’s a very crafty player,” he added.
Trillo also pointed out that UST is one of the deeper teams in the league, with players like Aljon Mariano, Clark Bautista and Louie Vigil capable of coming off the bench and providing an offensive spark.
This season’s Finals will be a rematch of Ateneo and UST’s 2006 Finals series, which the Tigers won in three games.
Ateneo is hoping that this season will end up differently, especially as it is the last season of Black as the Blue Eagles head coach.
“We’d like to send off Coach Norman with a championship,” Trillo said. – With a report from The Philippine Star.