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Eagles rumble with Bulldogs

Games Wednesday:
(PhilSports Arena)
11 a.m. — UE vs FEU
1 p.m. — Adamson vs UP
4:30 p.m. — La Salle vs UST
6:30 p.m. — Ateneo vs NU

Ateneo de Manila University head coach Tab Baldwin considers National University mentor Jeff Napa as the toughest tactician in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.

He knows Napa and the Bulldogs will come at the Blue Eagles ready for war as they clash on Wednesday for back-to-back wins in Season 85 men’s basketball tournament at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.

“These coaches in the UAAP are some tough guys, and I think Jeff might be the toughest of all of us. And his team is a reflection of him,” Baldwin said.

Tested on their opening day assignment, the Season 84 runner-up braces for another challenge in the 6:30 p.m. main game of the quadruple-header playdate.

“NU is a physical, tough team, and they do exactly what Jeff wants,” Baldwin said.

“He’s a disciplinarian, and they’re not gonna be easy for anybody this season, and I expect that we’re gonna get a real taste of that on Wednesday.”

Forthsky Padrigao, who sank the decisive trey that fended off Far Eastern University’s late rally in the Blue Eagles’ 79-70 win on Sunday, is expected to lead the charge once again for the Katipunan-based squad.

Backing him up are skipper BJ Andrade and big men Dave Ildefonso and reigning Most Valuable Player Ange Kouame, who both tallied double-doubles in their previous outing.

Napa, on the other hand, sees his team facing an uphill battle against the Blue Eagles.

To beat Ateneo, he said, the Bulldogs cannot afford to make the same mistakes they had in their 77-70 victory over University of the East.

“We have to address our lapses from our last game,” he said.

Napa was specifically referring to NU’s third quarter meltdown where the Bulldogs scored only nine points and allowed the Red Warriors to briefly overtake them after building a comfortable 14-point cushion at the half.

Against Ateneo, which overcame a six-point second quarter dryspell with an explosive second half, NU must start and finish strong.

“We’re facing a tough test against Ateneo. We have to be ready,” Napa said, pinning his hopes on opening day heroes John Lloyd Clemente, Jake Figueroa, rookie Kean Baclaan, Wilson Yu and Michael Malonzo.

Meanwhile, defending champion University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas also shoot for their second straight wins against separate foes.

The Fighting Maroons take on Adamson University at 1:00 p.m. while the Growling Tigers cross paths with De La Salle University at 4:30 p.m.

UP survived an early acid test in a narrow 72-69 escape of the Green Archers last Saturday.

“We need to be organized in our game and have better execution on our offense,” Maroons head coach Goldwin Monteverde said as he is wary that the Falcons, despite coming off a 60-69 defeat at the hands of UST, will go after them desperate for a bounce-back win.

Carl Tamayo, Terrence Fortea, who stepped up big time for injured guard JD Cagulangan in their first game, James Spencer and Malick Diouf will banner UP against Adamson’s Lenda Douanga, Joshua Yerro, Jerom Lastimosa and Didat Hanapi.

All eyes will be on the showdown between Nic Cabañero of UST and Schonny Winston of La Salle.

Cabañero came up with a season-high 33 points for the Tigers the last time out while Winston announced his return with a 27-point explosion, albeit in naught for the Green Archers.

UE and FEU, meanwhile, will duke it out for a taste of victory in the 11 a.m. curtain-raiser.

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