UAAP Game 2: Ateneo Blue Eagles expect wringer

MANILA, Philippines — Expect a fierce no-holds-barred, do-or-die dogfight. No more, no less. 

Driven to the very core of their championship form by the Fighting UP Maroons, the Ateneo Blue Eagles vow to be at their best in their bid for back-to-back title in Game 2 of the UAAP best-of-three title series tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“We’re going to fight, battle each other, the way it should be. We don’t expect anything less from UP and they can’t expect anything less from us. We’re going to give our best out of respect for them and they’re going to do the same thing,” said Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.

The fancied Eagles relied on a strong finishing kick to hurdle finals greenhorn Maroons in Game One, 88-79, and get into a good position in today’s Game Two to seal the deal.

“Certainly, I was proud of the fact we stuck to the task and we got to the finish line of the first half, because this is just the first half,” said AdMU coach Tab Baldwin. “We can’t expect anything less on Wednesday from them. We have to expect a lot more from our defense on Wednesday.”

The brave stand in the Maroons’ first finals game in 32 years should serve them well in the 3:30 p.m. duel as they try to extend their fairytale run and get a crack at the elusive title.

“The team is very hopeful,” said UP coach Bo Perasol, whose wards draw confidence from getting close to beating the tournament’s team-to-beat if not for a sputtering ending. “We know our chances and we will work hard for it.”

The milestone-hungry Maroons, though, will try to force a decider with MVP Bright Akhuetie either playing at less than 100 percent or sitting it out altogether due to a hyperextended left knee injury he suffered in Game One. Akhuetie, who managed to return and finish the opener, was spared of serious injury but remains day-to-day.

“Game-day decision si Bright, although nag-try na siya mag-ensayo kahapon (Monday),” Perasol told The STAR yesterday.

The first-ever “Battle of Katipunan” title series is overflowing with so much emotion and interest, generating fireworks on social media that even made headlines on national media.

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