PLAYING smart against the Ateneo Blue Eagles will help the defending champion La Salle Green Archers win Game 1.
Coach Aldin Ayo said this as the Green Archers battle the Ateneo Blue Eagles at the start of their best-of-three finals series in the 80th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament.
The Green Archers, who were the first to reach the finals after beating the Adamson Falcons, 82-75, last week, are set to face Blue Eagles at 4 p.m. today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Not just relying on big man Ben Mbala, but plays initiated by the rest of the players will be the key and the game changer for the Archers in the finals series.
And Ayo took note of one of their veterans, Abu Tratter, who went out of his way to set plays for teammate Jolo Go.
“I always tell my players that we might not ask for it. But you might have to do it. If you want to win, you have to do things that are not asked of you,” said Ayo.
The Green Archers are meeting the Blue Eagles in the finals for a second straight season.
Ateneo needed an overtime period to defeat the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 88-84, and set another dream duel with the Achers.
Two days before Game 1 may not give the Blue Eagles enough rest and be in shape.
“We have to find a way to overcome that (fatigue). We can’t enjoy this game (win over FEU) too much because there’s a next game,” said Ateneo coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
This will be the sixth finals showdown between Ateneo and La Salle since their first championship meeting in the league way back in 1988.
Back then, Jet Nieto, father of the twins Matthew and Mike, along with Danny Francisco, Alex Araneta and Jun Reyes led Ateneo to a 73-72 squeaker over La Salle.
(Game 1 at the MOA Arena)
11 a.m. UE vs UST (women)
4 p.m. vs La Salle vs FEU (men