MANILA, Philippines – As the undefeated Ateneo Blue Eagles head back to action after a 16-day layoff, the defending champions face a streaking UST Growling Tigers side ready to pull off another shocker in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball title showdown.
Game 1 of the best-of three series starting Saturday, November 16 features a rematch between Philippine collegiate basketball's greatest minds as Ateneo’s Tab Baldwin and UST’s Aldin Ayo – who also had a winning stint with La Salle – again fight for the crown for the third time in 4 years.
Although the fourth-seeded Tigers, like everyone else, have yet to beat the top-ranked Eagles this season, this is not the first time Ayo played the underdog role in the collegiate ranks.
In his first-ever season as a head coach, the once unknown mentor steered the NCAA's Letran Knights in slaying the San Beda Red Lions dynasty back in 2015, the same year UST last figured in the UAAP finals.
Since then, Ayo has taken 3 different teams to a total of 4 finals appearances over a five-year span.
This season, he now looks to add another title to his name with a proven cast led by MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo, UP-killer Renzo Subido, high-flyer Rhenz Abando, and Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy.
Although no Ateneo player won a single individual award this year, that’s exactly why the team is so feared around the league.
Led by Ange Kouame and Thirdy Ravena, Baldwin's system runs 16 men deep with contributions expected from every player. It's a proven, unselfish system that has produced two straight championships with a three-peat on the horizon.
Will UST continue its upset streak or will the walls of the Ateneo empire prove too high for a Tiger's leap?
Game time is at 4 pm at the Araneta Coliseum. Follow Rappler's live blog for updates:
UAAP82: ADMU v UST G1 - Curated tweets by RapplerSports