Thursday, November 22, 2012


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...(Charles Dickens, A Tale Of Two Cities)

UST 76 - 66 ADMU

Game one in the PCCL against UST was anything but normal. It was nice to see all the players of the UAAP 5-Peat Championship team together again. (JP Erram and Gib Babilonia were in street clothes)

There were also good times and smiles all around when both teams met up at center court to exchange pleasantries.

Slaughter and Abdul...

Kiefer and Kevin...
But when the game started, things turned serious again...
With Greg Slaughter reportedly nursing a slight injury, Frank Golla did the toss-up honours with Karim Abdul.
The first few minutes saw Ateneo take an 8-2 lead courtesy of Oping Sumalinogs 2 treys and a lay up by Tonino Gonzaga. Ateneo reclaimed the lead and took the first stanza 18-16.
Soon after, the Eagles' offense started to sputter and rust started to show. Passes were not very crisp, shot selection wasn't too efficient and communication lines were not very clear. UST started to pull steadily away behind the 22 point output of Jeric Teng. The half saw UST up 42-32.
It may have been the noise but Juami Tiongson seemed to have a hard time hearing Nico Salva who was relaying instructions from the bench...
UST had a few games under its belt after the UAAP Season 75 wars. They participated in the Unigames in Bacolod and had to undergo some elimination round games to capture the 4th Semis slot in the PCCL. Ateneo and San Beda were given outright slots after becoming UAAP and NCCA champions. Although Ateneo won runner-up honors at the Unigames, they hadn't seen much competitive action after. Add to that fact Salva, Slaughter, Chua, Sumalinog, Golla and Gonzaga were not around in Bacolod.
Abdul of UST also seemed lost during the first half and coach Pido had to give him an earful of reminders. He finished the game with 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals.
Salva top scored for Ateneo with 13 and Ravena followed with 12 points, together with 5 rebounds and 6 assists. The photo below shows a 2 pointer off an offensive rebound by Kiefer.

Juami Tiongson, who started at Point also had a sub-par game with 5 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist in 29 minutes of play.

As to officiating...well UST seemed to play a bit more rugged and got called for 19 game fouls as compared to Ateneos 12, but it seemed like UST had a lot of holding and hacking fouls that were left unwhistled.

I never realized that Abdul had darn big hands. Check out his palm in Slaughter's chest.
UST also seemed more in the moment as seen here...Forward Melo Afuang saving possession by bouncing the ball off Justin Chua's legs before falling out of bounds.
Justin only had one attempt at the basket and  missed.

There also seemed to be a certain modicum of luck on the side of UST. In the 4th quarter, Ateneo started a final run and was starting to cut into UST's lead when Jeric Fortuna launched his only converted three point shot of the game (1 of 7 attempts) that seemed to put them beyond practical reach.
To be honest, on the Ateneo side intensity was in short supply, but the players gave UST a good fight. Even this two handed dunk by Slaughter couldn't seem to wake them up...
Oping Sumalinog who started hot in the first quarter was taken out for a rest and was possibly forgotten. He was actually sitting on ice (well, an ice chest) at the start of the second half and eventually returned to play but his hands had cooled down by then.
One has to also take into consideration that the coaching staff may actually be giving the holdover players more playing time to get them acclimatized for next years games. Von Pessumal and Gwyne Capacio are assured of more playing time. Same with Nico Elorde.
Speaking of coaching this a prelude to what we will be seeing next year?
 Who knows? Time will tell...

The number of rebounds and steals seemed to summarize the course of the game. UST had way more boards, 40-28, underscoring the fact that Ateneo had difficulties at the 5 position. The Tigers also hustled more and got more steals 7-2.
In the end, the players again met in center court, with the same feeling of fraternity but maybe this time there were not as many smiles. After all it is just a game and in the end they are all friends, and that is what matters.
There are still a lot of questions left unanswered. Frank Golla mentioned that his return to the team next year was still up in the air. The team still has no definite head coach. Once thing's for certain, this team has been playing together for some time now and playing at championship level. It won't take long for them to find that old Black magic one more time and play as a well oiled machine. Abangan...

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