After proving doubters wrong in the Final Four, Ateneo is up against greater odds in their return to the UAAP Finals.
Though the Blue Eagles are considered underdogs against the rampaging De La Salle Green Archers, sophomore Mike Nieto promised they will put up a fight against their bitter rivals.
Nieto himself was a revelation in Ateneo’s superb seven wins in eight games, including the latest 69-68 Final Four clincher over dethroned champion FEU.
The Blue Eagles also gave the Archers their lone loss of the eliminations during that stretch.
“We’re gonna fight against La Salle. They’re the strongest team in the UAAP right now. We’re just there to fight for the whole Ateneo community,” Nieto told FOX Sports after scoring 13 points last Wednesday against the Tamaraws.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to be in the finals again after how many years na hindi kami nakapasok ng finals. It’s a blessing na nakapasok ulit kami,” he said.
Going back to the Finals though was not a cruise.
FEU forced a win-or-go-home match in their Final Four series and the Katipunan cagers needed an overtime period and the heroics from Isaac Go to upset last season’s champions.
“FEU was a very tough team they’re the defending champions, nahirapan din kami but we just wanted to win this game, we wanted to prove everyone wrong nung natalo kami nung semifinals,” Nieto said.
“Everybody thought this is the downfall of Ateneo. We just fought din to prove everyone wrong.”
Nieto and the whole of Ateneo team will need to do that again if they want to reclaim the UAAP crown that eluded them for three years.
“We’re excited for the challenge, at the same time we’ll take them seriously like what we did with FEU,” Nieto said.
“Malakas man yan, bilog naman ang bola. We’ll just fight kagaya ng ginawa namin whole season,” he added. – By John Chester Fajardo
Follow this writer on Twitter: @Chester_Fajardo