UAAP: Ateneo looks to stay on track for semis bonus in rematch vs. UP

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2022 11:19 PM

Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
The University of the Philippines (UP) and Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) battle during the first round of the UAAP season 85 men's basketball in Pasay City on October 16, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines -- The Ateneo Blue Eagles look to take another step towards securing a playoff bonus when they take on the University of the Philippines in a crucial UAAP Season 85 clash, Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Fighting Maroons (11-2) have already locked up a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final 4, and the Blue Eagles (9-3) are hoping to stay on track to a top-2 seed as well. 

Ateneo needed to survive a spirited effort from University of the East last Wednesday and hack out a 69-66 overtime win to rise to second place in the league table. On the same day, De La Salle University dealt National University a costly 63-58 loss that dropped the Bulldogs to third.

Blue Eagles coach Tab Baldwin believes that their recent string of close games should be useful for his team as they try to take down the defending champions.

"You get these situations that arise that you can't recreate in practice. These are live. There's a lot depending on it, and we executed pretty well in critical situations," said Baldwin after they erased a late deficit against UE and then out-played the Red Warriors in overtime.

"It should pay dividends for us. These are things the coaching staff can get some analysis into the players' hands which are very, very difficult to recreate in practice," he added.

Ateneo lost to UP when they met in the first round, 76-71, in overtime. The Fighting Maroons had also dethroned the Blue Eagles in the UAAP Season 84 Finals, with all three games going down the wire. 

"Everyone knows how last season ended, in heartbreak," Ateneo's Dave Ildefonso said. "[We're] always looking forward to going against UP, especially right now they're #1, and they probably have one of the best players in the country in Carl Tamayo."

"They're just a deep, deep team, and they're all talented. When the odds are faced against you, you just want to fight, try your best, and try to bring down the giants. That's what we're trying to do," he added.

Game time at the Big Dome is at 6:30 p.m.

Opening the day's double-header at 11:00 a.m. is a crucial match-up between the NU Bulldogs and the Adamson Soaring Falcons, with National U also looking to stay in the hunt for a twice-to-beat bonus. 

At 1:00 p.m., Far Eastern University and University of Santo Tomas will face off in a battle of already-eliminated teams, while La Salle will look to keep its momentum going against UE at 3:00 p.m. 

UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.