Experience vs. hunger.
This, in a nutshell, was how majority of the coaches see the UAAP Season 75 men’s basketball best-of-three finals showdown between four-time defending champion Ateneo and pumped-up University of Santo Tomas that unfolds this Saturday at the MOA Arena.
if you ask the six other coaches, the top-seeded Blue Eagles, who finished the preliminaries with a 12-2 card and gave archrival La Salle the big boot 66-63, will have their hands full against the Growling Tigers, the second-ranked team with a 10-4 eliminations record and ousted host National University 63-57 in the other semis pairing last Saturday.
Both teams split their head-to-head match-ups this season, with UST completing a 71-70 shocker last July 19 and Ateneo settling for a close 68-66 decision last Sept. 15, and the other coaches expect another grueling battle with two placing their bets on Ateneo, one on UST, and three saying it could go either way.
In a poll conducted by Yahoo! Sports Philippines, here’s their take:
Leo Austria, Adamson: Best game ng Ateneo against sa best game ng UST, I think Ateneo will still prevail. Sanay na sa ganitong laban ang Ateneo. May direction ang sistema nila kaya alam preparado na talaga sila dito sa finals. Pero hindi sila pwedeng magpakasiguro sa UST, gutom na gutom naman yan. Si (Karim) Abdul, hindi ‘yan pipichuging import. (He’s) very intelligent and has a very high basketball IQ. Kaya capable rin ang UST na talunin ang Ateneo. Alam nila (UST) na mayro’n silang pupuntahan at marunong na rin silang mag-handle ng mga critical moments. Kaso iba ‘yung dominance ni Greg Slaughter. Naglalaro siya sa role niya tapos well-defined pa ‘yung roles ng teammates niya. Sa UST naman, delikado sila ‘pag pumutok ang mga wingmen (Jeric Teng at Kevin Ferrer). Anytime pwede rin pumutok si (Tata) Bautista. Sa finals, kung sino ang nag-ra-run ng system nila ng maayos, may advantage na ‘yun and it’s Ateneo.
Eric Altamirano, National University: I think it’s Ateneo but a close one.
Boycie Zamar, University of the East: Realistic lang ako, sino ba ang four-time defending champion? Pero tingin ko, walang lamang, walang dehado sa kanila. Pagdating kasi sa finals, wala ng statistics. It’s all about heart.
Gee Abanilla, La Salle: Close call, anybody’s ball game. Great match-up talent-wise for both teams but it will boil down to experience vs. hunger. Mahirap namang pumanig sa kabila dahil baka magtampo si Coach Pido. I guess, mas may lamang ang experience but you can’t discount the hunger.
Bert Flores, Far Eastern University: Magandang laban. Ang Ateneo nawalan pero ang UST nadagdagan kaya naging balanced sila. Gutom na gutom rin sila (UST) kaya tingin ko makukuha na nila ngayon.
Ricky Dandan, University of the Philippines: It’s too close to call. They’re evenly matched. It’s up to the team that will exploit its strengths. I think it’ll reach Game 3. Ateneo’s strength is their finals experience while UST simply has the best import (Karim Abdul) in the league.
More College Hoops stories:Ateneo vs. UST: Who's your pick?