UAAP Final Four Preview: Ateneo vs. NU

By Ivan Saldajeno

The other UAAP Final Four series will commence as the top-seeded Ateneo Blue Eagles will battle the wildcard entrants NU Bulldogs tomorrow. Here's my preview of the said semifinal battle.

History: This will be the first time both the Bulldogs and the Blue Eagles clash in a playoff showdown ever. Now, let's look at what happened last year. Ateneo barely missed the Final Four right on the final night of the eliminations. NU, on the other hand, squandered a twice-to-beat advantage as the top seed and got knocked out too. The culprit: UST!

What Now: The Growling Tigers got eliminated thanks to a second round collapse, but the Blue Eagles and the Bulldogs still had contrasting ways to make the semis. Ateneo easily entered the Final Four after nearly dominating the season. Meanwhile, NU, still had to stave off UE's gallant stand before taking the last semis berth.

Key Match-up: Kiefer Ravena vs. Gelo Alolino-The soon-to-be-crowned MVP Kiefer Ravena and spark plug point guard Gelo Alolino will take centerstage in the one-on-one battle. Ravena averaged 21.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.5 steals a match in his MVP season. Alolino, meanwhile, made 12.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game in the eliminations. Both former RP Youth Team members will grind it out to put their respective teams to the top, especially Alolino, whose NU team needs to win twice to oust Ateneo.

More Stats: Like I mentioned above, the Bulldogs are now on the opposite side of the Final Four spectrum from last year. They now need to exactly do what the Growling Tigers did to them last year against the Blue Eagles. However, it's possible. NU is the only team that gave Ateneo an 0-2 season series loss this year. In fact, The Blue Eagles have yet to beat the Bulldogs in the Bo Perasol Era. But NU coach Eric Altamirano downplayed that after his team won in the do-or-die match against UE.

(Related Story: Altamirano lauds Khobuntin for leadership in NU win)
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