It’s sudden death Wednesday.
Heading into this second game of the Final Four matchup between the Ateneo Blue Eagles and NU Bulldogs, the fourth seed still has the clear advantage. NU have swept Ateneo in their last five matches and as I said in my previous postgame, all the numbers point to them extending their streak and advancing to the finals.
Yet the Ateneo faithfuls continue to believe. The Eagles for sure still have some fight in them to give it their best shot no matter how daunting the task may seem.
Keys to the Game
RUN, RUN, RUN
The only way that Ateneo can make up for their greatest weakness – their defense – is to run. They can let NU score, but they have to make sure that they score more. The Eagles get higher chances of draining shots when they push the ball before the Bulldogs can transition and set up their defense. And I can’t stress this enough: they need to START EARLY, not when it’s already too late.
GET THAT BALL
NU will find ways to slow Ateneo down so that they can execute in half court. The Eagles would need to exploit the Bulldogs’ tendencies to be careless and then immediately convert their turnovers into markers.
LEAN ON THE VETERANS
When we say veterans, it’s not just Kiefer Ravena. It includes Chris Newsome and Nico Elorde, who by the way might be playing their last game of their collegiate career, and Von Pessumal. These three should step up and help the Phenom light up the scoreboard and find cracks in NU’s polished D.
As they say, it usually boils down to who wants it more. Well I’m sure both teams have strong motivations to get this win – NU to end their finals appearance and title drought, and Ateneo to prove that Season 76 was just a fluke and that they’re on their way back to dominance. The Blue Eagles can use some inspiration from the Lady Eagles’ journey to the crown last season and adopt the heartstrong mantra while at it.
Bracing for the worst, hoping for the best. #OBF
Featured image by Raddy Mabasa, Fabilioh