The stage is now set in the UAAP Season 82 Finals, as the Ateneo Blue Eagles will get to face the UST Growling Tigers in a best-of-three series starting on November 16, 4 pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ateneo has pulled out all the stops in defending their title by going undefeated in all of their 14 elimination games, while UST made a Cinderella run to the finals after being slated as the fourth-seed in the Final Four.
While defeating Ateneo might pose a daunting challenge for UST, the Aldin Ayo-mentored squad should be able to give the defending champs a run for their money as they were one of the teams that were close to giving them their first loss of the season.
Today, FOX Sports Philippines examines some interesting matchups to look out for in their finals clash.
Angelo Kouame vs. Soulemane Chabi Yo
It’s going to be last year’s Rookie of the Year against the tournament’s Most Valuable Player in this colossal matchup that should produce a lot of highlights in the finals.
Angelo Kouame and Soulemane Chabi Yo are both ready to bring their A-game, particularly in the low block where both of them do their most damage on both ends. While Kouame holds the height advantage on this one, Chabi Yo plays much more bigger than size and he would need to pose his will down there in order to give the Growling Tigers a chance in this series.
Matt Nieto vs. Mark Nonoy
These two playmakers are expected to be the x-factors for their teams, and they might be the difference between winning and losing this series.
For Ateneo, Matt Nieto has been a steady presence at the point guard position. He has shown the capability to play well within Tab Baldwin’s system as he can knock down the outside shot and facilitate well for his teammates with his passing. Nieto may not be the most athletic guard out there, but he makes up for it with his immense basketball IQ.
On the other hand, Mark Nonoy is showing as to why he’s the reigning Rookie of the Year playing in Aldin Ayo’s system. The leftie floor general can really push it in transition with his blazing speed and good ball-handling skills. From time to time, he can knock down the three-pointer in order to keep defenses honest.
Thirdy Ravena vs. Rhenz Abando
Thirdy Ravena may have given Rhenz Abando a pair of shoes the last time they saw each other, but for sure he won’t give anything else this time around.
Playing in his last year for the Blue Eagles, Ravena will be keen on ending his collegiate career by completing a three-peat. He is expected to lead the squad by impacting the game on both ends with his athleticism and shotmaking ability. At the same time, Ravena will serve as their emotional leader to rally his squad.
Rhenz Abando, meanwhile, still has a lot of ways to go here in the league. The high-flying swingman has all the tools at his disposal to develop into one of the country’s great young players with his uncanny ability to finish inside or nailing a three-point shot. Abando’s future is looking brighter by the day and he is already a household name here in the UAAP.