For the defending champion Ateneo Blue Eaglets, beating the Nazareth School National University Bulldogs will be difficult.
For one, the Bullpups have been in the finals for the last eight years and this will make them a formidable foe going into Game 1 of the 81st University Athletic Association of the Philippines junior basketball tournament.
Blue Eaglets coach Regie Varilla said this as the Blue Eaglets brace for a 3 p.m. encounter with the Bullpups at the start of their best-of-three finals series tomorrow at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
“NU has been in the finals for the last eight years. And they have been winning titles every other year. But not in the last two years. We know that they will come into the fight very, very hungry. So, we will have to put in the work,” remarked Varilla.
The Bullpups lost to the Blue Eaglets in the championship series last year, with 7’1” Kai Sotto, Ateneo’s tower of power playing a dominant role.
This time around Sotto will be backed up Geoff Chiu, and the twin towers will be the Eaglets’ main weapon to match up against the Bullpups duo of Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao.
The Bullpups hope to regain the crown they last won in the 2015-16 season behind the efforts of Terrence Fortea, Gerry Abadiano, Cyril Gonzales,
“We do our best every day. Regardless kung ano mangyayari, we give our best lang,” said NU coach Goldwin Monteverde.
The Eaglets were swept by the Bullpups in their elimination round head-to-head this season.
Ateneo hopes to have a healthy ace guard Forthsky Padrigao, who went out late in their game against Far Eastern University-Diliman due to cramps.
Game 2 will be on Friday, while the deciding game, if necessary will be played next Monday, Feb. 25.