Ateneo, La Salle keep good—however one unbeaten run will finish in showdown of rivals

UAAP 84 MBB ADU vs. ADMU Dave Ildefonso 0822
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Ateneo's Dave Ildefonso.

Ateneo’s Dave Ildefonso. UAAP PHOTO

After two years of hibernation, basketball’s fiercest present rivalry lastly returns to the massive—nevertheless nonetheless empty—stage.

And it might appear that each defending Ateneo and La Salle obtained there on the identical path, driving undefeated runs into their first pandemic-era conflict within the UAAP males’s basketball match slated on Saturday at Mall of Asia (MOA) Area.

However not all unbeaten playing cards are created equal.

Ateneo has been untouchable this season—and in its final 29 UAAP video games, in truth—and its 78-47 victory over Adamson on Thursday at MOA Area solely calcified the concept it’s headed for a fourth straight championship celebration just about worry-free.

The Blue Eagles have led by at the very least 20 factors of their first three outings and their common successful margin (16.3) has in truth been weighed down solely by sturdy fight-backs by their first two foes. They appeared to have cleaned up their ending kick in opposition to the Falcons, and it appears the one downside for Ateneo is find out how to persuade individuals that it’s going to really face an issue this season.

“We strategy each recreation the identical approach, we respect our opponents and we’ll play the proper approach, as a staff,” Ateneo middle and Gilas Pilipinas nationwide staff standout Ange Kouame mentioned on Thursday. “Coming to the following recreation, it is going to be the identical mentality and we attempt as a lot to cowl as a lot errors and be taught from it and hold shifting ahead.”

La Salle, alternatively, began the season shakily however wound up with the identical card as its rival—3-0 win-loss—after disposing of a tricky problem in Far Jap U, 75-65 in one other match on Thursday.

Followers again

Justin Baltazar had 20 factors and 11 rebounds as he joined arms with Kurt Lojera in a knee-capping 13-2 run that turned a hairline lead right into a 75-63 cushion getting into the ultimate minute.

And Baltazar, additionally a Gilas Pilipinas standout when Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin dealt with this system, can also be desperate to placed on a present on Saturday, the final UAAP playdate that shall be performed with out followers. The league will admit a restricted variety of followers in taking part in venues beginning April 5.

“I’ll apply all of the issues I realized from [Baldwin and Gilas] in our recreation,” mentioned the 6-foot-7 middle, who Baldwin modified right into a stretch large/wing on the nationwide staff.

“We’ll do our greatest. This can be a totally different story. They’re now not my Gilas teammates. It’s a battle of faculty pleasure right here within the UAAP,” Baltazar added. “We’ll stick to teach’s recreation plan, put together arduous and enhance no matter we did in our previous video games.“

Final loss in 2018

How La Salle’s greatest will stack up in opposition to an Ateneo program that hasn’t misplaced since October 2018 would be the focus of Saturday’s duel of rivals.

However the Inexperienced Archers know that the Eagles can shift to a better gear so simply. The champs did so on Thursday, operating the Falcons down with an 18-0 run within the third interval. Kouame joined arms with Dave Ildefonso and Josh Lazaro in engineering that burst as Ateneo widened an eight-point edge to 54-28 within the third quarter.

Kouame confirmed the best way for the Blue Eagles with 13 factors on 6-of-8 taking pictures and added 10 rebounds, one block, one steal and an help to maintain his staff unbeaten in three video games.

In a later recreation on Thursday, College of the Philippines earned its second win in three outings after holding off Nationwide U, 80-70. 

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