Ateneo still the standard in level playing field of UAAP 82

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Sep 03, 2019 06:55 PM
UAAP 82: Ateneo still the standard in level playing field
Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt are out for a third consecutive championship in their last seasons in blue and white

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 12-2, champion

YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: SJ Belangel, Isaac Go, Ange Kouame, Gian Mamuyac, Will Navarro, Matt Nieto, Mike Nieto, Thirdy Ravena, Tyler Tio, Adrian Wong

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Jason Credo, Patrick Maagdenberg, Troy Mallillin (returning)

GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Anton Asistio, Aaron Black, Jolo Mendoza (sit out), Raffy Verano (sit out)

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM ATENEO?

Ateneo’s championship core is still here – and that means that Ateneo’s championship contention is still here.

With Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt seeking a fine finish to their collegiate careers and Ange Kouame seeking to build on his Rookie of the Year campaign, the motor that powered the Blue Eagles to back-to-back championships has remained mostly intact.

“Mostly” being the operative word there as Anton Asistio and Aaron Black have moved on from Katipunan while Jolo Mendoza and Raffy Verano have been forced to sit out this season to focus on their academics.

Still, next man up has been Ateneo’s mantra in this Tab Baldwin era and the multi-titled mentor will only pass on the responsibility to the likes of Tyler Tio, SJ Belangel, Gian Mamuyac, Will Navarro, and Adrian Wong.

Most of all, coach Tab – the undisputed top tactician in all of college – remains here, instilling his tried and tested brand and basketball for the three-peat seeking defending champions.

WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM ATENEO?

Coach Tab will take offense to this question as, in his system, there is not one player to watch and instead, there is a team to watch.

Adamson mentor Franz Pumaren perhaps put it best in the preseason press conference when he said, “It's quite obvious - it's gotta be Ateneo. From player 1 to player 16, their skills are the same. Ateneo should be rated no. 1,”

Indeed, each and every one of the Ateneo Blue Eagles has been taught to do it all for the team – and as such, will be ready and raring to contribute whenever they will be called upon.

Still, a statement season by Ravena in his fifth and final year also will not be surprising at all.

WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR ATENEO?

Ateneo is the defending champion, Ateneo is the team-to-beat, and Ateneo is the pacesetter in UAAP Season 82.

At the same time, though, the Blue Eagles are the epitome of team basketball with all of their players having defined roles which they excel at.

Of course, it’s difficult to root for Goliath, but this blue and white behemoth is as fun to watch as it is fearsome.

WHERE WOULD ATENEO BE AT THE END OF UAAP SEASON 82?

There’s a reason why the seven other squads said Ateneo remains the favorite in the tournament.

There is no doubt that the Blue Eagles fly high once more – with the Final Four a certainty, the Finals a big possibility, and a three-peat a fulfilling of destiny.

WHEN IS ATENEO’S FIRST GAME IN UAAP SEASON 82?

Defending champion Ateneo takes on Adamson to start the season anew on September 4 at Araneta Coliseum.

Of course, everybody goes All for More and, as always, all of the action will be on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and livestream.

HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE SEVEN OTHER TEAMS IN UAAP SEASON 82:

With its arsenal fully loaded, UE’s ambush good to go in UAAP 82

UAAP 82 one more chance for NU to piece the puzzle together

Espana’s hope in UAAP 82? Cansino’s return to form, UST’s return to playoffs

All-Filipino La Salle all set to cut UAAP 82 rivals down to size

Brave FEU not backing down from more heralded UAAP 82 rivals

Behind Ahanmisi, Adamson’s youth will be on the march in UAAP 82

For the first time in a long time, UP has gone all-in for UAAP 82

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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