University of the Philippines (UP) coach Bo Perasol expects nothing less than a battle when the Fighting Maroons face off against Brock Nelson Youth Jersey Katipunan neighbors Ateneo de Manila University for the first time in the UAAP Season 80 tournament on Wednesday.
Both teams won their opening games of Season 80, but in contrasting fashion: Ateneo routed Adamson University, 85-65, last Saturday, but UP needed a game-winning triple from Paul Desiderio to take down University of Santo Tomas, 74-73, on Sunday.
Perasol, who coached Ateneo for three years before returning to his alma mater, sees the Blue Eagles' performance against the Soaring Falcons as a warning to the rest of the UAAP.
"They were so formidable," Perasol said of Ateneo, which is now led by Thirdy http://www.officialislandersproshop.com/Cal_Clutterbuck_Jersey Ravena and the Nieto twins, Mike and Matt.
So impressive was Ateneo's win over Adamson that Perasol felt compelled to put them in equal footing with defending champion De La Salle University.
"I really thought La Salle would be the one who is going to be way ahead of the pack, but when I saw Ateneo yesterday, I think they are going to be going head-to-head, Ateneo and La Salle," he explained.
One particular player who could cause problems for Perasol and UP is Ateneo center Chibueze Ikeh, who pounced on the absence of Adamson's Papi Sarr to tally a double-double of 18 points and 17 rebounds.
Perasol was Ikeh's coach in his first season in the UAAP, and the UP mentor expressed his pride at the Nigerian center's achievement.
"I actually texted him that I was really proud of him," said Perasol. "Hindi ko naman sinabi na hindi sana Channing Frye Youth Jersey ganoon ang ilalaro niya against us, but I was really proud of how he performed (vs. Adamson)."
"Not just him (Ikeh), but all those rookie guys," he added. "They've really improved, they matured, and I think they'll be one of the teams that is going to be contending this season."
Perasol acknowledged that the Fighting Maroons will be the underdogs against the Blue Eagles on Wednesday, but he makes it clear that they are not backing down.
"Kahit sino man ang tanungin ko, alam naman nila kung sino ang lamang," he said. "But we are going to make sure that anything in our power, we'll give it to them."
An upset is not out of the question – the Fighting Maroons memorably shocked the Blue http://www.cavaliersproshop.com/Derrick_Williams_Jersey Eagles, 56-52, in their second round meeting of Season 79.
"Sana, ma-tsambahan," as Desiderio put it. "Malay mo – may off (day) naman sila. I-grab namin ang opportunity na 'yan."
The Blue Eagles, for their part, are treating the "Battle of Katipunan" as if it were any other game.
"Each and every game, we treat it the same way," said Ateneo's Thirdy Ravena, who exploded for 20 points and 10 rebounds against Adamson. "We just treat it as if it's a Game 7 of the Finals. Just come to the game prepared, and then address it."
The match-up between Ravena and Desiderio, both members of the Mythical Team in Season 79, will surely be one to watch. But also interesting is the duel between big men Ikeh and Ibrahim Ouattara of UP.
Ikeh turned in one of the best performances of his UAAP career, while Ouattara struggled with foul trouble and managed only four points and eight boards against the Growling Tigers.
Game time at the Big Dome is at 4 p.m., with the winner seizing the solo lead in the league standings.