"We got beaten by a better team that day," head coach Tab Baldwin told me via text message.
Two things stood out in that Mall of Asia debacle on Saturday: Prized big Mason Amos was held scoreless and the heavily-recruited Kyle Gamber didn't play.
I asked Baldwin to explain the twin anomalies.
"Mason had a few decent looks and he didn't knock them down. Kyle is a rookie who just started practicing a couple of months ago. There's a lot of catching up to do. He'll be fine."
If 0-1 is rare for Ateneo, going 0-2 to start a UAAP season is a place the Blue Eagles have never been to under Baldwin's watch that began in 2015. And that's the gun Ateneo is staring at right now as a Wednesday showdown with La Salle looms.
The Green Archers, who darted FEU, 77-66, to start their campaign this afternoon, will be a handful.
La Salle's depth showed in taming the Tamaraws. Evan Nelle and Kevin Quiambao each had a double-double while Michael Phiillips and CJ Austria combined for 25 points.
As if the Green Archers aren't trouble enough, they also have coach Topex Robinson roaming the sidelines.
Robinson, formerly of the NCAA and the PBA, bested a diverse and talented set of candidates who vied for the La Salle post when it became available at the end of last season.
La Salle versus Ateneo is not just a game. It's a rivalry lathered with the spicy sauce of conflict and animosity.
But to coach Tab, it's merely another asterisk in the calendar, another game out of seven in the first round of a tournament that lasts until December.
In other words, no biggie.
"It's the next one so it's always big because of that reason," Baldwin replied when I asked him if special attention was being given to the La Salle game.
You'd think losing key pieces such as Carl Tamayo, Zavier Lucero and Henry Galinato would disarm UP in a way that would make them a so-so contender.
The Maroons are a powerhouse.
In handing Adamson a 68-51 beatdown today, they sent a few stern messages loud and clear.
Malick Diouf will be a problem. CJ Cansino still got it. Harold Alarcon is a beast. And LeBron Lopez is a star-in-waiting.
"It's a fantastic team construction and a spectacular transformation," said a UP booster who wanted to be anonymous.
In case you don't know, Bo Perasol, Pato Gregorio and coach Goldwyin Monteverde have combined their brain powers to assemble this group.
They sure did put the fight in UP.2023-10-02T04:07:45Z dg43tfdfdgfd