UAAP FINALS: Ateneo welcomes underdog tag in Finals showdown with NU
Mark Escarlote on Apr 27, 2018 11:05 PM
Sabi nga ni coach (Oliver Almadro), parang dati kami 'yung nagiging gauge ng lahat ng teams kasi kami nga 'yung nananalo, pero ngayon sila na -- Ateneo ace Marck Espejo on Finals showdown with archrival National University
For only the second time in his five-year collegiate career, graduating hitter Marck Espejo admits that the four-peat-seeking Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles are marching into the Finals against archrival National University as the underdogs.
The Blue Eagles needed to survive two grueling Final Four matches against the twice-to-beat Far Eastern University to advance in their fifth straight championship appearance.
Espejo, who on his rookie year brought the inexperienced Ateneo squad into the Finals in Season 76 only to be devoured by the Bulldogs, and the Blue Eagles will be facing a well-rested and motivated NU squad Saturday in the UAAP Season 80 men’s volleyball tournament best-of-three Finals opener at the Big Dome.
Game time is at 12:00 noon and will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA on SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD on SkyCable Channel 183 and via livestream.
NU finished the elimination round at the top spot while Ateneo, which last year swept the tournament for a three-peat, landed at no. 3 spot.
“Sabi nga ni coach (Oliver Almadro), parang dati kami 'yung nagiging gauge ng lahat ng teams kasi kami nga 'yung nananalo, pero ngayon sila na,” said Espejo, who averaged 46 points per game in the Final Four. Kami nasa bottom, kami naghahabol.”
The Bulldogs and Blue Eagles split their elims meeting with NU taking a four-set win to send Ateneo in a twice-to-win disadvantage over the no. 2 Tamaraws.
Espejo needed to explode for 55 points to save Ateneo in five sets and force a do-or-die. The four-time Most Valuable Player dropped 37 in the rubber match to boot out FEU in four sets.
The Bulldogs were given at least a week of rest and preparation after dispatching University of Sto. Tomas in straight sets in the Final Four.
Espejo, with the help of other graduating players skipper Karl Baysa and four-time Best Setter winner Ish Polvorosa, remains positive of their chances of completing a four-peat.
“Alam namin na yung NU, malakas talaga sila,” he said. (Pero) wala pang champion, 'di pa tapos. Magsisimula pa lang 'yung Finals. Ibang usapan ang Finals sa eliminations.”
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