Bullpups, Baby Tams kick off title duel

NAZARETH School of National University and Far Eastern University-Diliman open their best-of-three championship series today in the UAAP high school boys’ basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Tip-off is at 3 p.m.

The Bullpups dominated the Baby Tamaraws, 64-49, in the first round way back on Nov. 13 and completed a sweep of their head-to-head with an 80-73 victory last Feb. 5 that gave the Bustillos-based dribblers an outright Finals berth.

Heading into the twilight of his checkered high school career, guard Gerry Abadiano is looking forward to elevate his game to help NSNU win its second straight crown and the fifth overall in the last nine seasons.

"Sa ngayon, stay in the present lang kami. Kumbaga kung ano ang nasa harap namin," said Abadiano.

"Kung makuha namin ang panalo, eh di iyon. Pero one game at a time pa rin," he added.

The Bullpups are determined to be part of history.

This season marked the first time in the Final Four era that all men's, women's and juniors basketball teams jumped straight to the league's biggest stage after going 14-0 in the elimination round.

NSNU hopes to duplicate the feat of Ateneo's men's and National University's women's teams which earlier in the basketball season went undefeated in 16 games.

Complacency is the Bullpups' biggest opponent right now.

"Siguro yung magre-relax yung team namin, iyan ang ayaw naming mamgyari," said Abadiano.

"Yung mga mali namin, kailangang baguhin. Sinasabi sa amin ni coach Goldwin (Monteverde) na huwag magre-relax. Hindi pa tapos yung goal namin," he added.     

NSNU is on a 25-game winning streak, with its last defeat came on Dec. 12, 2018, a 59-62 loss to Adamson.

FEU, which made it to the championship for the first time since winning it all in 2017, will enter the series as heavy underdogs.

After hurdling the Baby Falcons in the step-ladder semifinals, coach Allan Albano said he wants his Baby Tamaraws to seize the moment and pull off a stunning reversal of the Bullpups.

"At least we have one week preparation against NU," said Albano.

The Bullpups are playing for the first time in 28 days, spending time watching film and playing several tune-up matches to remain sharp.

Adamson and University of Santo Tomas begin their own series for the first-ever high school girls’ championship at 12 noon.