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NU, Adamson to sustain hot start

Joel Orellana




Games today
(Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. UE vs. Adamson
4 p.m. NU vs. La Salle

National University and Adamson University gun for a share of the lead as they battle winless foes in Season 81 University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament today at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Soaring Falcons seek their second straight win against University of the East at 2 p.m. while the Bulldogs also try to make it two in a row against De La Salle University in the main game at 4 p.m.

Despite getting the 75-70 win over University of Santo Tomas (UST) in their first game, NU head coach Jamike Jarin is far from satisfied from their effort especially from his young players.

“We played really good in the first three quarters but we didn’t play selfless in the fourth. That only shows we really have a young team. And like what I’ve been telling everybody, we need to mature fast in order to compete this season,” Jarin said.

“We need to fix things to get better and I’m sure UE is going to come better also.”

Dave Ildefonso had a solid debut for the Bulldogs against UST with 19 points and seven rebounds while his elder brother Shaun also contributed big in his first game as a Bulldog with 10 markers and 11 boards.

Troy Rike had a quiet UAAP debut, finishing with just six markers on 3-of-7 shooting from the field in 15 minutes. The former Wake Forest player is still adjusting to his new role in the team.

“Anytime you can get a win, you are happy. We are really a talented team. I’m happy to get out on a right note,” said Rike, who was utilized at center spot by Jarin, a role new to him.

“In Wake Forest, I never play the five ever. But it’s something that I have to get used to and as the games go and I should be more comfortable with that,” he added.

NU will be facing an undermanned Green Archers side, which entered the season with a 13-man roster and is in danger losing key player Taane Samuel for at least the remainder of the first round.

The six-foot-eight Kiwi re-injured his left foot in the early part of La Salle’s 61-68 loss to Far Eastern University.

Samuel finished with just two points in five minutes and now head coach Louie Gonzales has to tweak frontline rotation.

Anytime you can get a win, you are happy. We are really a talented team. I’m happy to get out on a right note.

Big men Leonard Santillan and Justine Baltazar are expected to get heavy minutes for the Green Archers while Gonzales hopes to draw a better game from team captain Kib Montalbo, who finished with just five points in 30 minutes against the Tamaraws.

Meanwhile, Adamson is the heavy favorite to prevail over the Red Warriors, who were routed by University of the Philippines, 58-87, in their first game under new coach Joe Silva.

The Soaring Falcons delivered the first shocker of the season after stunning defending champion Ateneo de Manila University, 74-70, behind the 23-point explosion from Jerrick Ahanmisi.

“The downside of us beating Ateneo is we’re now a marked team. Teams will really scout us, will prepare for us and probably look forward to play against us and beat us,” said Adamson coach Franz Pumaren.

“But we’re still a team struggling to improve our position last year. I think we still have a lot of work to do,” he added.

Silva, the former Blue Eaglets champion coach, had a rough UAAP debut against the Fighting Maroons as only Alvin Pasaol was up to the challenge, being the lone UE player in double figures in scoring with 14 in that 29-point loss.

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