MANILA, Philippines – Five-peat UAAP men’s basketball champions Ateneo Blue Eagles will need to manage the expectations of their fans when they return to defend their title in the 76th season, said businessman Manny V. Pangilinan.
Pangilinan reunited with Ateneo after temporarily severing his ties with his alma mater due to their opposing views on mining.
The Philex Mining chairman said he’s willing to set aside their differences for the sake of the Blue Eagles.
“It's not a question who approached first... if there are grounds for reconciliation, at least with respect to the team, why not?” Pangilinan said in an interview with ANC’s Business Nightly.
The businessman has pledged a significant amount to the Sports Endowment Fund (SEF) as a commitment to help Ateneo’s sports program.
Pangilinan said the school will need all the help it can get, especially since it will lose its graduating players.
Greg Slaughter and Nico Salva, who played crucial roles in Ateno’s 5-peat campaign, will no longer be able to play in the UAAP next year.
The Eagles will also lose graduating back-ups Justin Chua, Tonino Gonzaga and Oping Sumalinog.
But Pangilinan believes Ateneo may still do well in the 76th season since it still has remnants of the 5-peat team like Kiefer Ravena, Juami Tiongson and Frank Golla and Ryan Buenafe.
“My advice to them is to manage expectations for next year because the other teams are becoming much stronger and more experienced,” he said.
Pangilinan said some of the teams to look out for are Far Eastern University (FEU), De La Salle University (DLSU) and National University (NU).
Pangilinan also said he is also willing to lend a hand to the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons.
“UP sana, I'm willing to help them, in a way,” he said.