Ateneo De Manila University

Ateneo – FEU: The Greatest Escape

Ateneo vs FEU

Ateneo vs FEU

Nope, I’m not talking about the Filipino peacekeepers who fought Al Queda operatives who surrounded them for three days and escaped under cover of darkness. That is truly heroic and commendable. What I’m talking about is the unbelievable recovery of the Ateneo Blue Eagles to beat the FEU Tamaraws in overtime.

The whole UAAP basketball community is stunned by what transpired. I wasn’t there to watch live but I can imagine what the crowd was thinking at that very moment. 19 points down with 6 minutes to go…talo na yan! 10 points down with 3 minutes to go…doubtful, I don’t think we have enough time. 6 points with 1 minute to go…Puede pa, maybe just maybe. Tied game with less than 2 seconds to go but with FEU premier guard on the FT line..déjà vu ala UP?

And then Tolomia missed both free throws. Unbelievable!

In overtime, it’s who gets to strike first and who can hold the fort in the end. Whew! Ateneo didn’t just dodge a bullet, we dodged a missile!

In this game, could we say that Ateneo wanted it more? FEU must’ve also wanted it because number 1 seed was on the line and with it the crucial twice-to-beat advantage. And for the first 34 minutes, FEU appeared that they indeed wanted it more and they made the Ateneo team look like high school players. But what happened after that was truly miraculous. Ateneo started to make its shots. FEU started to miss theirs which resulted in Ateneo exploiting their running game. Why FEU didn’t slow the game down is a mystery. Did FEU panic? They have been in close game situations before!

This miraculous victory was the result of two things: skill and luck. Had Ateneo not made its shots in the last 6 minutes, we would probably lost by a lot. But Lady Luck was smiling at us. Had FEU made one or two more free throws in the last quarter, the momentum could have changed and Ateneo would have fallen short. Putting the game away is one of the hardest things to do and with half of the coliseum jeering the shooter. I wouldn’t want to wish this on anyone.

I’m a die-hard Atenean and I believe in the 6th Man. Of course I’m biased. For the other schools, they believe their cheering is better than ours. Fine. But in our case, we have the history and mystique coming back from seemingly hopeless situations. And with half of the spectators shouting “Get that ball!” at the top of their voice during a frenzied rally, that could be truly rattling. The other side wouldn’t know what we are saying when we chant “Fablioh” or “Halikanu”, but it’s no joke going up against rabid fans.

For this UAAP Season 77, Ateneo has had numerous slow starts and at least 3 come-from-behind mind-boggling finishes. Is it too much to ask for a faster start and a sustained finish? Oh well, until that happens – “Mary For You, For You’re White and Blue. We Pray you Keep Us Mary Constantly True. We Pray You Keep Us Mary Faithful To You! ” OBF!

Good Game, DLSU

It's Ateneo vs DLSU!

It’s Ateneo vs DLSU!

Good game, DLSU. You deserve this one. When Jeron Teng started the game strong and took matters into his own hands in the first quarter, I was telling myself, “Yes you are playing well now but you will fade in the fourth quarter.” In the second quarter, it was Kiefer Ravena’s turn to sizzle but we were still behind at the half. During the third quarter Ateneo made it’s run and closed the gap and by the fourth quarter it was a nip-and-tuck affair.

Just like the first game, whichever team that can make the shots and make the stops in the endgame, wins. Jason Perkins field goal gave DLSU the cushion it needed. Chris Newsome tried to save the day but came up short. The key here is that Jeron Teng made his free throws in the clutch. In fact, he didn’t miss! Kiefer Ravena scored only 7points in the second half but his supporting cast fought a good fight. Let’s just give credit to the DLSU coaching staff for making the necessary adjustments.

We won the first game and we were in cloud 9. DLSU won this game. Should we feel sad? Maybe just a bit because we care. At the start of the season, I don’t think any of us expected that we could beat DLSU twice in the regular season. Winning once would have been good enough. Remember DLSU is intact and the team to beat this year. They may have many players injured but this doesn’t really matter to them because they were built to be 2-3 strong per position. One goes down, someone else capable will step up. Watch out for Rivero in the future!

Just remember, our goal of this season is to reach the Final Four. Ending the first round with a 6-1 record is heaven sent, but we also don’t want to be limping to the Final Four. Of the teams in this tourney, barring any major injuries, we should get wins from UP and Adamson. Then, hopefully, we  can grab three wins from the remaining teams. So this loss is only a glitch in our quest for a Final Four spot.

The road doesn’t get easier, though.  We next play UE on Wednesday with two athletic imports and Roi Sumang looking for payback. Let’s continue to support the team and give them One Big Fight!

Maybe The Best Ateneo Come-From-Behind Victory Ever

Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo De Manila University dribbles between the legs of Renz Palma of University of the East. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images)

Ok so it’s the first round of the UAAP and Ateneo may have come from even bigger margins before, but for its game against University of the East, Ateneo was playing with a smaller lineup against a team team that had two athletic African imports and an inspired All-Star guard. After the first quarter, I’m sure it seemed to many that Ateneo was going to get steamrolled this game. Everything went UE’s way. Charles Mammie was lording it over everybody. The UE press disrupted the Ateneo offense which led to many turnovers and easy baskets. Roi Sumang was playing well while Kiefer Ravena was 2/9 with 12 points.

Luckily basketball is a tale of two halves. In sports, it’s not how you start but how you finish that counts. An Ateneo recruiter friend mentioned that at the start of the second half, Kiefer had his “Kobe-look” and that would mean problems for UE.

Whatever the Ateneo coaching staff told its players during the break worked big-time. Somehow UE couldn’t get the ball to Mammie down low. The UE press slowed down the Ateneo offense but didn’t result in turnovers anymore. The Ateneo offense started to click under the leadership of Kiefer. The second half became the Ravena-Sumang show leaving the whole arena in awe. With five minutes to go, Ateneo was behind by 12 and down by 6 with 2 minutes to go.  Then Ateneo made it’s run and tied the score at 80-all resulting in the first overtime game this UAAP season. In the extra period it was still the Ravena-Sumang show. Ateneo controlled most of the overtime period and won 93-91.  Ravena had a career high 38 points while Sumang had 30.

UE should be actually performing better than its 2-4 current standing. It’s just that they start strong but somehow in the second half they collapse. This happened to them in their tiff against La Salle. I regard them as a “hard-luck” team because they seem to lose when they should be winning! Somehow their opponents just end the game stronger than them.

At the start of the season, I projected UE to be a Top 3 team behind DLSU and NU with Ateneo, FEU and UST fighting for the last Final Four spot. UE can still make the Final Four but they have to start winning fast! Assuming it takes 8 wins to make it there, they have to win 6 out of their last 8 games.

Ateneo on the other hand is at an enviable 6-1 standing. Their only loss was to a tall and athletic NU team which defended Kiefer well the entire game. I have said before: wherever Kiefer goes, Ateneo will go. The Blue Eagles live and die with the Phenom. For two straight games now he played hero to win close games. Can he do it again in the second round? I hope so with the help of his supporting cast.