The Ateneo Blue Eagles (7-4) have been performing better in the second round, amidst the coaching change speculations and the John Apacible incident. Currently on a three-game win streak, they’re looking to secure their Final Four bid by slowly killing what’s left of the UP Fighting Maroons’ (3-7) chances.
In the last Battle of Katipunan, Ateneo prevailed by limiting UP to only 59.2 points per 100, their lowest output this season. Jett Manuel, one of UP’s top scorers, was held scoreless in that match as Kiefer Ravena and the team scouted him well and worked together in stopping his attacks.
The Fighting Maroons’ defense was also on point that time, as the Eagles only managed to produce 77.2 points per 100, well below their average of 90.3. UP will once again focus on trying to stop Kiefer, who recently torched NU with his season-high 32 points, including six straight triples in the first quarter. They have another major problem in Von Pessumal, who’s been putting up impressive numbers game after game. Commentators have been emphasizing this every time: Von really wants to prove that he’s more than just a shooter. So far, so good for the senior guard whose 13.5 points per outing have given Ateneo a huge lift.
Should their main offensive weapons get clamped down, the Eagles still have a variety of options. This is the perfect opportunity for the rest of the team to insist time and again that Ateneo does not necessarily equate to Kiefer. Different players have provided spark off the bench this round – Adrian Wong, Aaron Black, Arvin Tolentino. Assuming they’ll get enough playing time, these three are all capable of taking over and breaking down UP’s defense.
Ateneo needs to capitalize on their rebounding prowess, something that UP is not known for. Getting additional possessions and converting second opportunities should not be a problem for the guys in blue. Their more polished offense is also something that they can take advantage of. They are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of assist rate – Ateneo assists 62.2% of their field goals, while UP only assists 41.8%. The Blue Eagles have several facilitators, while Diego Dario does majority of the work for the Maroons.
One more win means a sure slot in the Final Four, so Ateneo can’t afford to relax and give this game away. #OBF
|TV: LIVE ON ABS-CBN SPORTS AND ACTION|
|TIME: 4:00 PM|
|VENUE: SMART-ARANETA COLISEUM|