Blue Eagles, Falcons collide in battle of contenders

IN this file photo, Thirdy Ravena of Ateneo tries to advance the ball down the court while De La Salle's Brent Paraiso looks to grab the ball. Ravena, son of former PBA player Ferdinand Ravena, is expected to lead the Blue Eagles in their big game versus the Adamson Falcons.

ATENEO and Adamson –two of the league’s hottest teams –collide in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament on Saturday in a battle of contenders at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Blue Eagles and the Falcons meet in the main offering at 4 p.m., after the 2 p.m. encounter between University ofthe East and the National University.

The Blue Eagles are gunning for their eighth straight win but theyhavetheir hands full, especially since the Falcons are on a roll with four straight wins.

That probably gave Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga some seriosu concern.

“Adamson is on a roll. The last time we met them Papi Sarr didn’t play,” said Arespacochaga.

“They (Falcons) got momentum. They are a well-coached team. They have a couple of players who didn’t play well in the first round but are starting to hit their strides,” added Arespacochaga.

Arespacochaga stressed that the Eagles indeed are playign a different Adamson team this time.

“We really have to prepare well against them and coach Franz (Pumaren) will also prepare well against us also,” he added.

Without Sarr, who was then recovering with a hamstring injury, and the backcourt duo of Jerrick Ahanmisi and Jerie Pingoy groping in form, Ateneo posted a runaway 85-65 win on opening day.

Chibueze Ikeh, who had 18 points and 17 rebounds in the opener, is expected to have a tough duel with Sarr in the middle, while Thirdy Ravena will again provide the leadership the Eagles need.

After coasting along most of the first round, Ateneo survived its biggest test of the season as it nipped defending champion De La Salle University, 76-75, last Sunday.

Despite hurdling the Green Archers that gave them a first round sweep, the Eagles know of the emormous task of maintaining their perfect streak.

Pumaren was satisfied that the Falcons were able to recover from a poor start to boost their Final Four bid.

“Surpised. Bit disappointed also. There were times that we had a lot of mistakes. But I guess, we surprised a lot of people in this position. Come second round, it’s going to be different,” said Pumaren.

Adamson, currently sitting in third spot at 5-2, is gunning for a second straight semifinals appearance.

The Bulldogs routed the Red Warriors on opening day, 86-69, but this no guarantee however of a repeat win.

The Red Warriors have been playing quite well lately. They had a good account of themselves despite losing to the Green Archers, 100-106, intheir last outing. They conquered University of Santo Tomas, 96-91, to end a six-game losing skid.

Alvin Pasaol has been beasting in the last two games, dropping a Red Warrior record of 49 against the Green Archers and torched 32 in beating the Growling Tigers.