Two months away from defending its title in UAAP Season 81, Ateneo de Manila University will be defending the pride and honor of the Philippines in the 40th William Jones Cup.
The Blue Eagles will be representing the country in the regional meet commencing on July 14 – the first collegiate team to do so in the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas era.
They will be leaving for Taiwan on Friday and will be playing their first game in the tournament on Sunday.
For Thirdy Ravena, this is nothing but a golden opportunity for the UAAP defending champions. “Coming into the Jones Cup, ang target namin is to represent the university and the country well. To do that, we will play to the best of our abilities,” he said during the team’s send-off on Wednesday.
Alongside wearing the flag, Ateneo also plans to gauge just how ready it is for its title defense up against national and club teams from other countries. “Hindi pa kami ganun kahanda, pero yung goal namin is to improve as individuals. For me, bagong challenge itong Jones Cup kasi dito namin makikita kung gaano kami ka-ready,” court general Matt Nieto said.
Team manager Epok Quimpo could only agree. “Yes, we are preparing for the UAAP, but it’s also a blessing for us to represent the country. Rest assure that these guys are working hard with the goal of representing the country well,” he said.
Helping out the Blue Eagles in their campaign will be chief backer Chooks-to-Go. “Represent the country well and do your best because all of us will be supporting you. Laban Pilipinas! One Big Fight,” company president Ronald Mascarinas said.
The Philippines has won the Jones Cup five times. The last time the country topped the tournament was back in 2016 with the import-laden Mighty Sports-Philippines.
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