PRE-TOURNAMENT favorites National University and Ateneo open their UAAP juniors basketball Finals rematch today at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The Bullpups lost to the Blue Eaglets last year in the championship series that went to full distance.
This time around, the Blue Eaglets have their hands full, more since the Bullpups beat them twice in the elimination round.
“Ayun nga, kailangan naming paghandaan talaga nang mabuti yung NU kasi di sila magiging 13-1 nang patsamba-tsamba lang,” said Ateneo’s tower power in Kai Sotto.
The soon-to-be named season MVP added: “Kailangan din naming maging ready kasi alam naming ibibigay talaga ng NU yung lahat.”
Game time is 3 p.m.
Coach Reggie Varilla is hoping that Ateneo will address its endgame problems, where after leading by as much as 21 points, the defending champions allowed Far Eastern University-Diliman to comeback in the last five minutes before prevailing in last Friday’s Final Four match-up.
“Lumabas [yung pagkabata]. Actually, I wanted to give experience to our other players. I know when we face NU, we will need the whole team ready. Kailangan pagdaanan yun eh,” said Varilla.
“Yung mga turnovers nung mga ibang rookies namin, I can swallow that if they need that para makakuha sila ng experience. Now they’ll be wiser. Pagdating ng NU, alam na nila yung gagawin nila, alam nila kung sila nagkamali and what they should improve on. Yun yung takeaway namin,” he added.
The Eaglets hope to have a healthy Forthsky Padrigao in the opener after the ace guard sat out late in their game against the Baby Tamaraws due to cramps.
Making their eight straight Finals appearance but have not won the championship since the 2015-16 season, the Bullpups have a solid roster behind Terrence Fortea, Gerry Abadiano, Cyril Gonzales, Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao.
In both games, the 7-foot-1 Sotto sometimes have to operate outside with the tough defense set up by Quiambao and Tamayo.
“We do our best every day. Regardless kung ano mangyayari, we give or best lang,” said NU coach Goldwin Monteverde.