Tuesday, September 27, 2011

UAAP Finals: Ateneo Blue Eagles shoot for 4th straight UAAP crown

MANILA, Philippines—Ateneo tries to complete a historic quest Tuesday with coach Norman Black hoping the Blue Eagles would stick to what has made them successful all these years.

Black said the Eagles need another solid defensive effort to reward themselves with a fourth straight UAAP men’s basketball title against Far Eastern University.

 Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo tries to shake off Chris Eximiniano of FEU.

“That has really been the strength of our team,” said Black. “It has been our strength from the beginning, it has been our strength the last four years. We don’t have to worry whether our offense will be off. We’ll just go out and defend and still have a chance of winning.”

Game 2 of the best-of-three title series is set at 3 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Another victory will put Ateneo in the elite company of schools that built varsity dynasties. La Salle was the last to string up four titles (1998-2001) after University of Santo Tomas pulled off the same feat (1993-1996).

University of the East holds the record with seven (1965-1971).

The Eagles, though, just want to focus on the game at hand.

“We have to adjust in our pick-and-roll defense,” said Black. “They (Tamaraws) were really successful in attacking us in the first half [of Game 1].”

Adamson earlier guns for a third straight women’s crown when the Lady Falcons try to sweep the Lady Tamaraws in Game 2 of their best-of-three at 9 a.m.

In the juniors division, the Baby Tamaraws gun for their first title since 1987 against the resilient National U Bullpups at 11 a.m.

The league will also honor the top individual performers in each division at 2 p.m. with Most Valuable Player Ray Parks of NU and Rookie of the Year Kiefer Ravena leading the awardees.

Ravena complemented the strong plays of Nico Salva and Greg Slaughter in Game 1 last Saturday, where the Eagles shot a remarkable 60 percent from the field en route to an 82-64 rout of the Tamaraws.

Despite admitting that the Eagles had “a perfect game,” FEU coach Bert Flores still thinks his Tamaraws can push the series to a decider.

“We’re still positive,” said Flores. “We have to pressure them (Eagles) because their execution is really good. We also have to work on our ball movement.”

Terrence Romeo, last year’s top rookie, carried the fight for the Tamaraws in Game 1 with 23 points.

And even with Ateneo owning the advantage at the low post with the seven-foot Slaughter, Flores wants to involve big men Aldrech Ramos and rookie Russel Escoto more in their offensive game plan.

“We have to give our big men more touches,” said Flores.

The Eagles, though, have history favoring them. Since the league adopted the Final Four format in 1994, all but four of 17 teams that won Game 1 went on to bag the crown.

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