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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Completing the Drive for Five: Ateneo Wins Game Two

The difficulty about commenting about current events is that one has to write about a topic as soon as the topic comes out, else, the moment has passed, and, oftentimes, there's no point in writing about it.

However, since the bonfire for the 5th straight Ateneo championship happens later, I'd like to put in my two cents for the record.

I managed to catch the last two quarters of that tumultuous game last Thursday. Up to the last few seconds, the game was up for grabs, as each team would build a lead, only to lose it to a furious drive by its opponent. Fortunately, the Ateneo Blue Eagles managed to keep their composure, Juami Tiongson snatched an errant inbound pass, and held on for the win against a determined UST squad, thereby giving Ateneo its fifth straight men's basketball championship.

A lot of drama was present in the run-up to the game, as UST coach Pido Jarencio made a number of unsportsmanlike comments about the refereeing in game one, for which he was reprimanded by the UAAP board. Coach Norman Black responded to Jarencio's comments, saying that there was a racist element to them. This word war, along with the Varsitarian editorial slamming both the Ateneo and La Salle over their professors' support for the RH bill, helped fuel the emotions on both sides.

It was the championship experience that helped win it for the Ateneo, as the players kept their presence of mind and played hard all the way, especially in the last minute, where they harried the UST players into key turnovers.

It's a bittersweet championship, as the school will be saying goodbye to a number of players, as well as its coach. Nico Salva, Greg Slaughter, Tonino Gonzaga, Justin Chua, and Oping Sumalinog have played their last game for Ateneo in the UAAP. It's possible that Frank Golla and Ryan Buenafe, who are in their fourth year, could opt not to come back for a fifth year. Coach Norman Black, who was the guiding force behind the Ateneo attack, will move on to the professional league and coach Talk 'n Text. With all of those losses, one of my high school classmates quipped that the battle cry for next year should be "Let's fix the six!"

With the Ateneo win, the curtain falls on the UAAP men's basketball season. Next year, the landscape will be a lot different, and there will be new challenges for Ateneo to try to win its sixth straight. Hopefully, with astute recruitment and continued focus, the Blue Eagles will make it happen.

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