MANILA, Philippines - It is seldom in the current UAAP basketball tournament that Ateneo will be faced with a situation where it will be seeking revenge against a team.
The Blue Eagles have an 11-2 win-loss record, the best in the tournament. But one its two setbacks was against the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers.
So today, it's payback time as far as Ateneo is concerned when the two teams clash at 4 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Though the Blue Eagles may find the contest not worth breaking a bone for, as they look forward to the Final Four where they were the first to qualify, the match still carries significance for both teams.
Ateneo needs the win to claim a twice-to-beat-advantage in the semis and the top spot in the eliminations, giving them the special advantage of having to play the fourth-placed semifinalist.
On the other hand, UST is also in a must-win situation, needing a victory to clinch a Final Four berth while stopping Ateneo from taking the No. 1 seeding this early.
UST coach Pido Jarencio is not discounting another upset as the stars aligned when his team beat the Eagles by the narrowest of margins, 71-70, last July 19.
But that seemed like eons ago. Ateneo rebounded from that loss like a team possessed and won 10 of its next 11 games.
"We didn't play as a team the last time we faced them, we just have to make sure it won't happen again this time," said Ateneo coach Norman Black, who has spent hours dissecting UST's strengths and weaknesses.
Jarencio, having done it before, believes they could do it again.
"Sana maka-tsamba kami (against Ateneo) pero ang maganda sa amin ngayon e diktado namin ang sitwasyon," said Jarencio, without elaborating.
UST is tied with Far Eastern University in second place at 9-3, both teams already having clinched a playoff for a Final Four slot.
Fighting tooth and nail for the fourth berth are National University and La Salle, both at 7-5. National U's bid suffered a big blow when it lost to Ateneo 70-56 last Thursday.
Today's doubleheader will also pit University of the East (3-9) against Adamson (2-10). Both teams are out of the running for a Final Four berth.
Meanwhile, sources said the league is mulling the possibility of banning FEU center Arvie Bringas for the remainder of the season after he planted an elbow on University of the Philippines guard Jett Manuel during the Tamaraws' 67-63 win on Thursday.
The league is also eyeing a possible sanction on FEU assistant coach Ronald Magtulis, who allegedly shouted at Ateneo's Nico Salva and Ryan Buenafe when they crossed paths after the Tams' victory against UP.
"Sana makatsamba kami (against Ateneo) pero ang maganda sa amin ngayon e diktado namin ang sitwasyon," said Jarencio, whose immediate goal for now is to make the Final Four instead of the No. 1 spot.
In the first game, eliminated teams University of the East (3-9) and Adamson (2-10) battle for pride at 2 p.m.
Meanwhile, sources are saying that the league is mulling the possibility of banning rugged FEU center Arvie Bringas for the season after a latest incident where he planted an elbow on University of the Philippines guard Jett Manuel during the Tamaraws' 67-63 win on Thursday.
The league is also eyeing a possible sanction on FEU assistant coach Ronald Magtulis, who witnesses said shouted at Salva and Ryan Buenafe after the Tams' victory while exchanging words with the former's father during halftime Eagles-Bulldogs game.
A special meeting is being eyed by the league although UAAP secretary-treasurer Junel Baculi neither confirmed nor denied the possible action, saying that "three member universities must request."