MANILA -- Rivals Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University will meet early in the UAAP Season 86 men's basketball tournament, with the Green Archers eyeing a second victory.
It will just be the second game of the tournament for both teams. Tip-off is at 6:00 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, in what will be the fourth game of a quadruple-header.
The rivals had contrasting results in their season-openers. La Salle pulled away for an 87-76 victory over Far Eastern University, while the Blue Eagles -- the league's defending champions -- were routed 77-64 by National University.
For new La Salle coach Topex Robinson, it's a dream come true to play the Blue Eagles, albeit in a rare weekday game.
"When I was growing up, I used to watch that rivalry, and now I'm just excited for it. Sabi ko nga, it came in so early, but whether we like it or not, we're going to face each other," said Robinson, who is in his first season in charge of the Green Archers.
"Obviously, there's a lot of hype and many stories behind the game, but at the end of the day, Ateneo remains a worthy rival. That will never change. Coach Tab Baldwin is also a worthy rival. We'll always compete against each other, and it's just an opportunity for me to get better learning from Coach Tab and Ateneo," he added.
Ateneo, for its part, is looking to shake off the effects of their loss against the Bulldogs -- the first time that Ateneo has lost its season-opener since 2018.
"I think the words that mean so much to Ateneans, 'One Big Fight,' the word 'fight,' was left out today, and that's inexcusable," said Baldwin. "We should be -- and we are -- very disappointed in our performance."
Baldwin acknowledged that his new-look team, now playing without stalwarts in Ange Kouame, Dave Ildefonso, and BJ Andrade, lacked composure against National U. He is optimistic that they can turn things around against La Salle, however.
"We prepare, we do our game plan for La Salle. Hopefully, our players exhibit a little more pride, and I think they will," said Baldwin.
Expected to lead the way for La Salle anew are Kevin Quiambao and Evan Nelle, who both finished with double-doubles in their win over the Tamaraws.
The Bulldogs are also gunning for their second victory against the Tamaraws at 12 noon.
University of the Philippines and University of the East will dispute win No. 2 at 10 a.m., while Adamson University and University of Santo Tomas seek to rebound from their opening day losses at 2 p.m.