Eagles vs Stags: Dynasty or redemption
- Olmin Leyba () - December 15, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Two teams with contrasting fortunes in their respective mother league – UAAP four-peat champ Ateneo and NCAA bridesmaid San Sebastian – dispute the 2011 Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) diadem in a rubbermatch that will either cement the Eagles’ dynasty or give the Stags a redemption of sorts.

Gametime is at 3:30 p.m. at the Arena with the Eagles out to put another feather in their cap by copping a third straight PCCL jewel and the Stags seeking to make up for a botched finish to an otherwise banner season in the NCAA by becoming the first national champions from their league.

AdMU coach Norman Black and SSC counterpart Topex Robinson anticipate another struggle in today’s you-or-me showdown, which became necessary after the Eagles outlasted the twice-to-beat Stags last Monday, 56-51.

“We just want to keep the game close and try to take advantage of every opportunity we can get,” said Robinson, still hunting for his first crown with SSC.

The Stags look to hit pay dirt this time after settling for runner-up honors to San Beda despite a blazing 15-0 start in the last NCAA cage wars.

Black said it’s important for his charges to find their shooting range against San Sebastian’s stifling zone.

“They’ve done a great job on their zone defense, getting into the passing lane, cutting off our passing angles. I mean, you always gonna struggle if you don’t shoot well from the perimeter and we have not shot well in the last couple of games, actually,” said Black, ruing their 20-of-57 (35.1 percent) marksmanship and 26 errors.

Firing blanks and turning the ball over, Ateneo went scoreless in the first six minutes of the fourth period and only scored one field goal, a jumper by Kiefer Ravena, in a 10-point final canto.

Nico Salva, the top scorer with 18 points on 7-of-10 clip from the two-point area, made four of his six freebies in the stretch to bail AdMU out.

“You know, as a coach, the game always becomes easier if you can make the outside shot and if you don’t, then everything becomes a struggle. On other side of the ball, you just have to forget about that and just concentrate on defense. In other words, if we can’t score, just make sure they don’t score,” Black said.

Ateneo will also have to find a way to contain SSC ace Calvin Abueva. Black assigned Oping Sumalinog the last time around in place of shorter Kirk Long, but the reigning NCAA MVP still got away with 16 points (6-of-19 FGs) to go with 10 rebounds, three assists and one steal.

Abueva’s stint was down to 27 minutes in the opener, hampered by leg problems and fouling out with 1:04 left after losing possession to Sumalinog and Long. Abueva bumped into the referee in protest, getting a technical foul that was later assessed to the SSC coach.

Winner of the 2011 PCCL will take home the Manny V Pangilinan “Abutin ang Tagumpay” Perpetual Trophy that symbolizes collegiate cage supremacy.

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