Ateneo’s Thirdy Ravena and La Salle’s Mark Dyke jockey for position in a rebound play during their Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup showdown Sunday. The Eagles subdued the Archers in overtime, 81-75.
Joey Mendoza
For UAAP buildup; Blue Eagles get dose of European play
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - June 14, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Ateneo Blue Eagles step up their buildup for their UAAP title defense by flying to Greece today to get themselves exposed to Euro-style basketball and pick up valuable lessons there.

The Eagles, according to coach Tab Baldwin, have penciled two tune-up matches with the Greek national U-21 team and five other games against men’s squads from the second-tier Greek A2 Basket League for this trip.

“It’s an incredible thing for an organization. For a Filipino team to be complemented with such level of games, it’s going to be tremendous for us,” said Baldwin. “Very, very tough games for us. We’re going over there ready to learn lessons and I’m sure we will learn a bunch.”

Ateneo star Thirdy Ravena said they’re privileged to experience high-level training in Europe this time. In previous years, the Eagles went to the US for their UAAP preparations.

“Can’t wait to experience European basketball, that’s my favorite style of play,” said Ravena, citing in particular the Europeans’ emphasis on fundamentals. “Everything’s stripped down to the basics, the pick-and-roll, offensive ball cut, even defense, I’m sure we’ll learn from them.”

He added the Eagles won’t be after upsets over teams from Greece, the No. 9 ranked country in the world by Fiba, but rather for the wealth of learning and experience to be had.

“Going there, gusto ko nga tambakan kami para makita yung pagkukulang namin (I would prefer to get blown out by our opponents so we’ll see our shortcomings),” said Ravena, who thanked team patron Manny Pangilinan for “giving us the opportunity to improve as a team and as individuals.”

It will also be a homecoming of sorts for AdMU’s forward Will Navarro, who grew up in Greece and was part of the junior squad of Greek club Panathinaikos.

Before leaving for Greece, Ateneo also faced Far Eastern U and the Eagles toppled the top seeded Tams, 70-58, to capture the Smart City Hoops 25-under Summer Classic crown yesterday.

Ravena, who only joined the team in the semis of the tournament presented by Chooks-to-Go, Rain or Shine Elasto Paint, Mighty Sports, Cignal TV, and Wilson Basketball, led the Eagles’ balanced attack with 12 points and six rebounds.

Fellow Gilas Cadet Isaac Go and Ivorian student-athlete Angelo Kouame chipped in nine points each while Matt Nieto had seven points, three assists, and three steals.

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