The Ateneo Blue Eagles, according to Reyes, became the latest victim of it.
“That [pressure of sweeping the eliminations], aside from Adamson’s great execution, were the reasons why Ateneo lost,” said Reyes in a text message to InterAKTV.
The Blue Eagles, who are gunning for a fourth straight title, were hoping to join the elite company of teams that completed a rare sweep in the elimination round of the UAAP. A win over the Falcons in their Saturday encounter would have given the Katipunan-based cagers an outright seat in the finals and a thrice-to-beat privilege against their would-be opponent.
But the Falcons made sure there wouldn’t be a sweep this time.
The Falcons played with a sense of urgency, and defeated the Blue Eagles, 62-46, to secure a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four and end a miserable losing streak to Ateneo that stretched for nearly 15 years.
It was also sweet victory for Adamson coach Leo Austria, who won for the first time over Blue Eagles head coach Norman Black in their past 12 meetings.
“I just felt everybody was on our side when we faced Ateneo, particularly the teams which are aiming for Final Four slots,” said Austria. “So the pressure is less for us.”
Despite losing their first game in 14 games this season, the Blue Eagles are very much in the hunt for a fourth straight title and will have a twice-to-beat advantage against the fourth-seeded team in the tournament.
Reyes believes Ateneo, a team for which he played when legends such as Allan Caidic and Jerry Codinera of University of the East, Pido Jarencio of University of Santo Tomas and Glenn Capacio of Far Eastern University were among the brightest collegiate stars in the UAAP, will bounce back strong this season.
“That’s OK. Winning the title is Ateneo’s target, not the sweep,” added Reyes.