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RIVALRY SHOWDOWN — Ateneo-La Salle clash headlines UAAP quadruple-header

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF UAAP Veteran guard Evan Nelle’s leadership will be tested when La Salle takes on archrival Ateneo in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament.

Games today:
(Mall of Asia Arena)
10 a.m. — UP vs UE
12 p.m. — NU vs FEU
2 p.m. — Adamson vs UST
6 p.m. — Ateneo vs La Salle

Defending champion Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University rekindle their storied rivalry in another action-packed encounter in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 men’s basketball tournament today at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Expect fireworks when the two proud schools hit the hardwood at 6 p.m. to banner a busy quadruple-header playdate.

Meanwhile, clashing in the 10 a.m. curtain-raiser are University of the Philippines and University of the East followed by the 12 p.m. showdown between National University and Far Eastern University. Adamson University, on the other hand, meets University of Santo Tomas at 2 p.m. with both teams looking to barge in the win column.

Still, the spotlight is focused on the Blue Eagles-Green Archers battle.

La Salle will be holding the momentum in their first round meeting following a rousing 87-76 victory over FEU last Sunday in head coach Topex Robinson’s debut.

The new Green Archers mentor tries to downplay the marquee game.

“It will always be the same — it’s all about us. You know, we and ours. We don’t really, obviously, we know who we’re gonna play up against but we just focus on what we have and that’s us,” Robinson said.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of hype, a lot of stories behind this but at the end of the day, Ateneo’s a worthy rival. That will never change. Coach Tab is a worthy rival, we’ll always compete against each other and again, it’s just an opportunity for me to get better also learning from coach Tab and Ateneo,” he added.

“But one thing’s for sure, it’s gonna be an exciting game that we’re gonna play and I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

La Salle will again rely on Evan Nelle, Kevin Quiambao, Mike Phillips, CJ Austria and Francis Escandor, who all put up double-figure scoring in the previous match, to keep its hold of the early lead.

But Ateneo is sure to come out smoking to rebound from a shocking 64-77 defeat loss to NU last Saturday.

Still adjusting from the departure of its veteran core, the Blue Eagles would need to squeeze out more from newcomers Mason Amos and big man Joseph Obasa after coming up with just two points each in their disappointing debuts.

“Hopefully, our players exhibit a little bit more pride and I think they will. I think, I don’t like to use the word wake-up call, because we aren’t asleep, we just played badly,” head coach Tab Baldwin said after the Blue Eagles suffered a beat down.

Baldwin will also pin his hopes on Gab Gomez, Ian Espinosa and Sean Quitevis bringing the same energy they showed in a losing cause the last time out.

On the other hand, the Fighting Maroons seek a follow-up to their 68-51 win over the Soaring Falcons but are sure to face a tough resistance against host Red Warriors, who crushed the Tigers, 80-70, in their opening assignment.

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