MANILA, Philippines – There are a number of reasons this rivalry has always been must-watch basketball.
For starters, both Ateneo and Far Eastern University proudly roll out very deep rotations. The Blue Eagles have 13 players who average at least 10 minutes per game while the Tamaraws have 11.
Also, out of their respective 16-man rosters, only one FEU player averages more than 10 points a game while Ateneo only has two.
And of course, there's that rich history. For the fourth straight season, the Blue Eagles will battle the Tamaraws in the UAAP Final Four.
The new chapter of their feisty showdown gets going on Sunday, November 25 at 3:30 pm at the Araneta Coliseum. (LIVE UPDATES: Ateneo vs FEU – UAAP Season 81 Final Four Game 1)
In the last two years, the Tams have forced a do-or-die game with the twice-to-beat Eagles. In both contests, Ateneo only won in overtime, stretching the limits of their hard-earned advantage.
Then there’s the contrasting styles of play.
Although the defending champion Eagles have always been known for their masterful balance of the game, they excel the most where the big boys play down low. They are the league’s second-best squad in average points in the paint with 34.1 and in two-point field goal percentage at 48.6%.
Meanwhile, the Tamaraws are most lethal from beyond the restricted area, given their league-best 32.5% three-point field goal percentage and 33.9 average perimeter points.
And finally, there are the similarities.
FEU is the second-best team in overall shooting with a 40.1% clip from the field while Ateneo is right behind them with 39.8%. The Tams are also the league’s slowest team with a 75.81 pace but Ateneo is just two spots quicker at 76.88. As a result of their identically methodical rate of play, both teams are at the bottom of the ladder in terms of fastbreak points.
However, there are also a number of reasons Ateneo has been the eventual victor for the past two years.
The Eagles are the best rebounding team with an average of 47.1 rebounds per game as well as the best shot-blocking team, averaging 5.6 swats a night. They also average the second-most assists at 15.1 while also being dead-last at 14.4 turnovers per game. Apart from their league-high block rate, Ateneo also averages 2.5 more steals over the guard-heavy FEU.
And finally, as the most telling stat, they lead the league with only 61.9 points allowed from their opponents on average. Trailing them as a far second are the Adamson Soaring Falcons with 70.8 points allowed per game, nearly 9 whole points behind.
Both teams have distinct preferences in the way which they play their game. However, the numbers clearly tell why one team is defending the UAAP championship while the other is chasing it like the rest.
Still, the ball is round. FEU has repeatedly proven that Ateneo is not immortal. Obviously, they’re looking for this series to be no different. – Rappler.com