By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE UNIVERSITY of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons and Ateneo Blue Eagles renew their rivalry in Season 80 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) as they play their marquee “Battle of Katipunan” today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Happening at 4 p.m., the Maroons and Eagles, winners in their tournament debuts last weekend, are out to claim early bragging rights as well as gun for leadership in the standings in the brand-new season.
UP, which finished last season at sixth place, had an exciting start to its campaign, hacking out a 74-73 victory over the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers last Sunday.
Pushed to the limit, the Maroons turned to veteran Paul Desiderio to bail them out, with the player bucking a poor shooting game to drain the game-winning three-pointer with a second remaining to give his team the win.
Desiderio top-scored for UP with 17 points on top of nine rebounds while Gelo Vito had nine and Noah Webb and rookie Juan Gomez de Liano ended up with seven points each.
Ateneo, for its part, had it solid in its first game, routing the highly touted Adamson Soaring Falcons, 85-65.
Capitalizing on the Falcons not having their full complement, the Eagles dominated from start to finish to earn their first win in Season 80.
Thirdy Ravena paced Ateneo in the win with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Chibueze Ikeh was also impressive with 18 points, 17 rebounds and two assists, making hay as Adamson played sans its own foreign player in Papi Sarr.
Zeroing in on the first installment of their Battle of Katipunan this year, UP coach Bo Perasol said they are expecting a tough fight against a team they consider as one of the top contenders this season.
“I saw Ateneo’s first game against Adamson and they were so formidable. Entering the season I thought La Salle (defending champion) would be way ahead of the pack but when I saw Ateneo play I think they will compete with La Salle,” said Mr. Perasol on how he views the Eagles.
The UP coach, however, said that despite the challenge that Ateneo poses it would not stop them from competing against it.
“Ateneo may have the upper hand but this is the Battle of Katipunan and we will come in prepared and handle what we can control,” Mr. Perasol said.
Preceding the UP-Ateneo match will be the clash between Season 80 hosts Far Eastern University Tamaraws (0-1) and University of the East Red Warriors (0-1) at 2 p.m.