Unbeaten Eaglets vow to defend home court against streaking Bullpups

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Feb 10, 2018 08:42 PM
Eaglets vow to defend home court against Bullpups
Joaqui Manuel, SJ Belangel, and Ateneo look to use their home court advantage to the fullest

Ateneo de Manila High School is one win away from a clean sweep of the elimination round an automatic advance into the Finals of the UAAP 80 Juniors Basketball Tournament.

Like they always have, the Blue Eaglets keep saying that their focus remains on the next game. “We’re not thinking about the sweep at all. We’re just thinking about the next game,” team captain Joaqui Manuel said.

Court general SJ Belangel could only agree. “Actually, ‘di namin iniisip yun. We just have to do one game at a time,” he said.

However, that next game for them is actually the very game which will determine if there will be an elimination round sweep as well as an automatic advance into the Finals.

Ateneo meets second-running Nazareth School of National University on Sunday in a game with implications not just for the two teams, but the entire league.

Stepladder playoffs will take place if the Blue Eaglets defeat the Bullpups and complete an elimination round sweep.

In such case, Ateneo will go straight into the Finals where it will wait the survivor in successive knockout bouts among NU, Far Eastern University-Diliman, and University of Sto. Tomas or Adamson High School.

Conversely, a Final Four will take place if the Bullpups beat the Blue Eaglets, thus preventing an elimination round sweep.

In such case, twice-to-beat Ateneo will take on either UST or Adamson while likewise twice-to-beat NU will take on FEU-Diliman.

While they aren’t going to make any guarantees, Belangel said the Blue Eaglets aren’t just going to let an opponent, and any opponent for that matter, come inside its campus to make a statement. As he put it, “Everyone wants to have a Final Four, pero siyempre, Blue Eagle Gym is our home court.”

He then continued, “Sino ba naman ang gustong matalo sa home court?”

The big showdown between Ateneo and the Bullpups will be held inside the Blue Eagle Gym in Quezon City.

And so, playing on their home court, the Blue Eaglets remain nothing but confident that they can keep rolling. “Sisiguraduhin naming mas paghahandaan namin sila kesa sa paghahandaan nila kami,” Kai Sotto expressed.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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