Defending champ UP, runner-up Ateneo still the teams to beat in Season 85

UAAP coaches gather for a group photo.

By Nikole Javier 

As expected, all eyes will be on reigning champion University of the Philippines and runner-up Ateneo as the two proud schools emerged as the early favorites for the upcoming UAAP Season 85 men's basketball tournament which fires off on Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Six coaches pinned their targets on the Season 84 finalists during the league's media conference on Wednesday, Sept. 28.

Despite getting the tag as huge contenders for the crown, UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde and Ateneo's Tab Baldwin see nothing but a big hurdle against six other teams.

"I guess naman, winning a championship last season doesn't mean na ngayong season, sigurado na 'yon. I think every team, every coach would really prepare and face 'yong magiging challenge for this Season 85," said Monteverde. 

Baldwin, on the other hand, won't put pressure on his team as they aim to reclaim the throne.

“We don’t really plan in those terms. I’ve said this before, years passed, we seek to take games one at a time and try to build the season from day one until if you’re there at the end. Try and make that last shot. I think that’s how you build a championship," Baldwin said.

FEU head coach Olsen Racela and NU’s Jeff Napa both agreed that the Blue Eagles and the Fighting Maroons will carry their momentum towards the upcoming season. 

Adamson head coach Nash Racela is also on the lookout for De La Salle which finished third in the previous season as well as preseason champion NU. 

Derrick Pumaren, who is currently in his second season with the Green Archer, is not taking any team lightly, saying that the teams to beat will be “all of the above” which resonated with UE assistant coach Don Allado. 

Lastly, UST deputy Rodney Santos didn’t look very far and was confident that the Growling Tigers can pull off surprises.

Host school Adamson will begin its campaign on opening day against UST at 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, defending champion UP will take on DLSU for a rematch of their Final Four clash in the 4 p.m. showdown.