Definitely the bigger squad in all five positions, Ateneo has to exploit its size from the onset.
Eric Salamat bothered with a knee contusion will be a game time decision. And if he would be forced to sit this one out, Eman Monfort will have to play major minutes. If that’s the case the pocket-rocket will be the X-Factor for Ateneo.
Justin Chua, the third year center who exploded for 17 points in Ateneo’s victory over UST, will have a hard time pulling of an encore knowing that La Salle won’t give him the same luxury of having wide open looks.
With the graduation of former MVP Rabeh Al-Hussaini and skipper Eric Salamat hobbled by injuries, Nico Salva has emerged as Ateneo’s leader. His leadership will be heavily needed especially if this game will go down the wire.
Speed will be the Green Archers advantage. Since Maui Villanueva and Ferdinand are definitely more athletic and quicker than their counterparts. It’s important for La Salle’s bigs to leak out and score easy transition points.
Simon Atkins caught fire with 20 points including four triples in their opening game against UP which resulted in a blowout win but since then the La Salle skipper has been off target as of late. If he is able to at least hit his triples it will open other scoring opportunities for his team.
Former RP youth mainstay Papot Paredes won’t have that same impact defensively, but those six blocks he swatted the last time just made him an intimidating force. Expect this athletic forward to at least alter shots from this point on.
We have yet to see the Joshua Webb we’re accustomed to. Only averaging a measly 5.3 points per game, the fiery forward must produce better than that as La Salle will be needing his point production severely facing their toughest challenge yet.