Ateneo de Manila University is one win away from celebrating the school’s 10th championship in University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
Sandy Arespacochaga, coach Tab Baldwin’s chief deputy, just hopes more Ateneans can celebrate with the Blue Eagles when they go for the clincher in Game 2 against University of the Philippines on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ateneo took the series opener last Saturday, 88-79, in front of more than 21,000 fans that filled the Mall of Asia Arena.
While the Blue Eagles came away with the victory, the Fighting Maroons clearly had the advantage in terms of crowd support as more UP fans, students and alumni were present to witness the so-called Battle of Katipunan.
“The atmosphere was nice. It was a very good game watched by a lot of people. We are defending the championship but I’d like to give a shout out to the Ateneans, we also have to defend our sixth man in terms of crowd,” said Arespacochaga.
“But even though we’re outnumbered, even if we had only 10 cheering for us, they will fight for us. But we want to extend our invitation to the Ateneans to watch the game live on Wednesday. The feeling (of watching live) is different and we would want you to feel that you are part of the team,” he added.
UP has been hogging the limelight, in print and social media, for the past few weeks because of its unbelievable run to the UAAP finals.
The Fighting Maroons survived three knockout games against La Salle and Adamson University to reach the championship round for the first time in 32 years.
That’s why it was not surprising that more UP supporters were at the venue in Game 1 compared to Ateneo, which has been in the finals for the third straight season.
Though the crowd was hardly a factor in the series opener, Arespacochaga still begs for more support from his fellow Ateneans on Wednesday as he expects UP to come back stronger and force a deciding Game 3.
“I also invite the fans of UP. It will be a very good game especially since a lot of UP and Ateneo have ties, relatives. There are UP alumni who fall in love with those from Ateneo and vice versa,” Arespacochaga said.
“But we’re gonna battle each other inside the way it should be. And we don’t expect anything less from UP and they’re not gonna expect anything less from us also. We’re gonna give our best out of respect to them and they will gonna do the same thing,” he added.
Arespacochaga has one more request, this time to the Araneta Coliseum management — expand the capacity of the Big Dome for Game 2.
“After all, Araneta is near to UP and Ateneo. That’s home for both schools,” he said.