(Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. – NU vs UE
4 p.m. – FEU vs La Salle
Title favorite La Salle and defending champion Far Eastern University lock horns for the first time since their heated scrimmage several weeks ago to highlight today’s doubleheader of UAAP basketball at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The two teams failed to complete their exhibition match at The Arena in San Juan when tensions boiled late in the third quarter that even saw FEU assistant coach Eric Gonzales confronting new La Salle mentor Aldin Ayo.
The 4 p.m. encounter has been the subject of discussion in last week’s press conference, with Ayo and FEU counterpart Nash Racela openly anticipating their duel.
While Racela has constantly described the incident as a “non-issue”, he hopes to see his team deliver a statement performance against a La Salle team installed as the team to beat following the arrival of Ayo and the debut of Cameroonian import Ben Mbala.
“We have a very different team this year and we just promise that we will give our best in trying to be competitive this year,” said Racela, whose Tamaraws face the daunting task of retaining its crown minus stars Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, Roger Pogoy, Russell Escoto, Alfrancis Tamsi and Achie Iñigo.
Big expectations have been placed on La Salle after Ayo steered the team to the Filoil preseason title last June with a dominant showing.
Ayo, who came to La Salle after steering Letran to the NCAA title, also has a slew of youngsters, namely Andrei Caracut and Aljun Melecio, to bolster a side that many believe could dominate the rest of the field.
“Lots of expectations sa team namin this year. For us, our goal is to work really hard during practices and during games at ibigay namin lahat kung anu ang makakaya namin,” Ayo said.