As the race for the top four spots in this UAAP season becomes more clear, the stakes in the league’s most celebrated rivalry just got higher. For around two hours on Sunday afternoon, students and alumni from both De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University will halt from their daily responsibilities and support their alma mater once more in one of the most important games in this UAAP Season so far for both teams.
For the DLSU Green Archers, the timing couldn’t have been better for them to play against their arch rivals as they seek to move ahead of them in the standings as both teams come into the match sporting a card of six wins and four losses. Just like in the first round, the Green Archers are coming into the game fresh off a win against the UP Fighting Maroons and are still undefeated in this round heading into Sunday’s marquee matchup. In the previous encounter between DLSU and ADMU, the Green Archers relied on an excellent performance from Arnold van Opstal, who had his breakout game with a surprising line of 18 points and eight rebounds. The undersized front court of the Blue Eagles proved to be helpless against the Taft towers and DLSU outrebounded their arch rivals, 48-32, as the Green Archers cruised to an 82-73 victory.
For the Ateneo Blue Eagles, a win against their arch rivals would not only avenge their first round loss to the Green Archers but it would also catapult them over DLSU for 3rd place in the standings. Coming of a huge 92-73 win against the league-leading FEU Tamaraws, the Blue Eagles came out with guns blazing in the opening quarter and never relinquished their huge lead all the way till the end. Juami Tiongson, who isn’t usually one of their first options, came up with a career-high 20 points and coupled it with two assists, and a block. Kiefer Ravena, who sat out the last time against the Green Archers, had an all-around performance of 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
With the stakes higher than ever in this season so far, expect this game to be a hard-fought match-up with each team having something to prove. The Green Archers, who are hoping to solidify their hold on the third spot, will rely on the one advantage they have had this season: height. Capitalizing on the stellar play of Jason Perkins, whose 11.8 points and 9.2 rebounds contribute even more than what meets the eye. With his 36.4 three point field goal percentage, Perkins can draw out Ateneo’s big men to open up the lane for DLSU’s slashers. The Green Archers though will not have the services of starter Thomas Torres who will serve his one game suspension for his second unsportsmanlike foul this Sunday. With Torres out, expect rookie Kib Montalbo, whose play in Torres’ absence due to sickness has gotten the Lasallian community excited, to pick up the slack and provide coach Juno Sauler with solid minutes.
This season hasn’t been so kind to the Blue Eagles, as injuries and a bad start prevented them from playing early on at a high level. With Kiefer Ravena back in the fold, expect the Blue Eagles to have a new game plan this Sunday. The Blue Eagles will finally feature a healthy roster that is already accustomed to the system of rookie head coach Bo Perasol and they are currently on a five-game winning streak, beating their opponents in convincing fashion. The trio of Ravena, Ryan Buenafe, and Chris Newsome provide the Blue Eagles with both an inside and outside threat on the offensive end that will keep DLSU’s hands full as they clash.
Since 1986, La Salle and Ateneo have gone head to head in the UAAP for a total of 71 times, with Ateneo leading the series, 36-35. Ateneo’s dominance in recent years may be a key factor, as they went on a six game winning streak dating back to 2010, with the Green Archers snapping that streak in this season’s first round.
From 2010 to today, the only times that the Green Archers have beaten the Blue Eagles in the UAAP was when Kiefer Ravena was still in high school. In 2010, Ravena was still lighting up the Juniors division with the Blue Eaglets while earlier in 2013, he was still recovering from an ankle injury. As glaring as this stat seems, it doesn’t guarantee the outcome of Sunday’s game and as we have seen in the UAAP, anything goes, especially when the Blue Eagles and Green Archers collide. Another heated showdown is expected to be played this Sunday at 4 pm in the SMART-Araneta Coliseum as both teams go for their seventh win.