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Perasol optimistic on UP’s chances vs. Ateneo in Game 2

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Despite losing the series opener on Saturday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Coach Bo Perasol believes that the University of the Philippines has what it takes to beat Ateneo de Manila in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball finals.

“It’s possible that we can beat Ateneo. Before the series, everything was like, ‘You have no match against them,’ ‘You have no experience going into the finals,” but they’ve shown that with a little tweaking on defense, they could give Ateneo their money’s worth even despite the fact that Bright [Akhuetie] wasn’t with them for quite a few minutes,” Perasol said.

The Fighting Maroons gave their all despite Akhuetie sitting out for the rest of the third quarter due to a hyperextended left knee, but they still fell to the Blue Eagles, 79-88.

Ateneo can complete a sweep of the best-of-three series when it meets UP again on Wednesday as the series shifts to the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, which Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga calls “home” for both teams.

“Yung Araneta malapit sa Katipunan [Ave.], ‘di ba–UP and Ateneo? (Araneta is near Katipunan, UP and Ateneo, right?) So that’s homecourt for both schools,” Arespacochaga said.

While more Ateneans are expected at “The Big Dome” due to the Blue Eagles possibly winning their second straight title there, a huge contingent from UP is also expected as the Maroons look to bring the series back to the MOA Arena for the rubber match on Saturday, leading to Arespacochaga pondering if the Smart Araneta Coliseum can be expanded to accommodate more fans.

On the other hand, UP’s star guard Juan Gomez de Liaño sees fellow Gilas Cadet Matt Nieto as a huge threat following his 27-point explosion for Ateneo in Game 1.

“He was getting buckets, so I think next game, we should do a better job in preparing to stop their players,” Gomez de Liaño said.

He added, “Even though we’re the number one offense in the UAAP, we should discover new things and apply it next game.”

Prior to the game, the UAAP will hand out its individual awards for the men’s and women’s basketball events.

Akhuetie will be formally named the Most Valuable Player, while Ateneo’s Ange Kouame is set to receive the Rookie of the Year award.

Gomez de Liaño, University of the East’s Alvin Pasaol, La Salle’s Justine Baltazar, and Adamson’s Jerrick Ahanmisi will also get their Mythical Five citations in the said pre-game event. (PNA)