By Kristel Satumbaga
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
10:30 a.m. – Ateneo vs UST
12:30 p.m. – La Salle vs NU
4 p.m. – Adamson vs UE
Ateneo and University of Santo Tomas clash for the solo lead today in UAAP men’s basketball at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The anticipated thrilling duel is at 10:30 a.m. with both teams staking their 2-0 win-loss records.
The Eagles lived up to their billing as the team to beat this season with victories over the Adamson Falcons (70-52) and archrival De La Salle Archers (81-69) while the Tigers made heads turn with statement wins over University of the East Warriors (95-82) and last year’s finalists University of the Philippines Maroons (85-65).
Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin expects a fast-paced game after watching UST wore down UP over the weekend.
“I was so entertained watching his team,” he said of UST coach Aldin Ayo’s wards.
“They (UST) buy into the system, the discipline is outstanding, so I don’t expect anything easy (on Wednesday).”
“I think I’ll wake the team (Ateneo) up about 6 a.m. to get them ready for that track meet that it’s going to be,” said Baldwin.
Ange Kouame is expected to provide inside strength for Ateneo to slow down UST while offense will come from brothers Mike and Matt Nieto after combining for 33 points, eight rebounds and five assists against La Salle.
The Eagles also hope Thirdy Ravena and Isaac Go to regain their bearing after failing to offensively deliver the last time.
For the Tigers, Ayo will make sure his stalwarts will come in prepared like their last two games.
“Obviously, they are the best collegiate team. Gusto lang namin makadikit, then let’s see kung ano ang pwedeng mangyari sa laro,” he said.
“This is a competition. Every time you come, of course, you always aim to win. We’re going to do our best and hopefully, maganda ang resulta,” said Ayo.
Rookie-transferee Rhenz Abando is slated to fuel the Tigers after erupting for 34 points in their last two games, while offense will also come from Mark Nonoy, Renzo Subido and CJ Cansino.
Defensively, Soulemane Chabiyo will match up against Kouame inside the paint.
Meanwhile, La Salle and National University seek to bounce back from first-game defeats when they collide at 12:30 p.m., while Adamson (1-1) faces University of the East (0-2) at 4 p.m.