By Jerome Lagunzad
2 p.m. – UE vs FEU
4 p.m. – UP vs Ateneo
No need for a bonfire, this time.
Still, University of the Philippines coach Bo Perasol is thrilled to see the Fighting Maroons “generate excitement” within their title-starved community following a thrilling 74-73 victory over University of Santo Tomas (UST) the last time out.
The Fighting Maroons have the chance to create more buzz today when they square off with the high-flying Ateneo Blue Eagles at the resumption of the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball action at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The latest chapter in the “Battle of Katipunan” is set set 4 p.m., with UP, which celebrated the end of a 27-game losing streak with a campus bonfire in 2014, out to earn a fitting encore to its escape act against UST three days ago.
But that would be easier said than done since UP will be taking on an Ateneo side riding the crest of an 85-65 victory over fellow contender Adamson last Saturday.
Perasol, who coached Ateneo two seasons ago, will be on the outside looking in.
“They were so very formidable,” said Perasol, impressed with how the Blue Eagles, notably his former players Nigerian import Chibueze Ikeh and wingman Thirdy Ravena, performed against the Soaring Falcons.
“I really thought La Salle would be the one who’s going to be way ahead of the pack, but when I saw Ateneo play, I think they’ll be going head-to-head. They’re a legitimate contender this season.”
But that doesn’t mean Perasol is already waving the white flag as UP intends to come up with another stunner against Ateneo following a 56-52 shocker in the second round of play last season — the Fighting Maroons’ first win over the Blue Eagles since 2009.
“Sana matsambahan,” said UP star Paul Desiderio, who knocked down the game-winning triple over UST in the dying seconds. “Malay mo, may off naman sila, i-grab namin ‘yung opportunity.”
Clashing in the opener set at 2 p.m. are Far Eastern and University of the East, both raring to barge into the win column after dropping their initial assignments.
The Tamaraws are eager to bounce back from a 95-90 loss inflicted by La Salle last Sunday while the Red Warriors are out to recover from an 86-69 beating to National University.
All eyes, however, will be on the main match.
“Every single game is big for us, because we never know when we’ll gonna need that win. Every game could be tight,” said Ravena as he prepares to face his former mentor.
“That’s why we want to treat each game the same way, as if it’s a Game Seven of the finals. We just have to come to the game prepared.”
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