by Jonas Terrado
Ateneo refused to embrace the tag ‘favorites’ to win a third straight UAAP crown if they end up beating either Centro Escolar University or St. Clare-Virtual Reality in the PBA D-League Finals which starts Thursday.
Known as Cignal-Ateneo, the Blue Eagles posted an 8-1 record in the eliminations before beating Chadao-Far Eastern University and City of Valencia-San Sebastian in the playoffs to earn the first D-League finals berth.
And it seems that Ateneo is poised to come out on top in the best-of-five title showdown at The Arena in San Juan City, giving coach Tab Baldwin’s crew more momentum before the UAAP opener in September.
But role players SJ Belangel and Jason Credo, who appeared in Tuesday’s PSA Forum, see things differently.
“Siguro if we win yung chemistry po namin lalakas. Pero kung sasabihin na kami magiging favorites, di po kasi since yung ibang nagwo-work din ng ways para talunin kami,” Belangel said in the weekly session held at Amelie Hotel in Manila.
“Siguro kami ang magiging favorite na talunin if ever mag-champion kami,” added Credo.
CEU and St. Clare were disputing the other finals slot at presstime in the deciding third game of their semifinal series at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Cignal-Ateneo had already beaten St. Clare in the eliminations, giving them an idea of how to beat a Saints squad that is known for its running game.
On the other hand, CEU may turn out as a mystery, especially being forced to field an eight-man roster in the playoffs that resulted in wins over Go for Gold-St. Benilde in the quarterfinals and St. Clare in Game 1.