Saturday, November 24, 2012


Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.   (Michael Jordan)
ADMU 96 - 78 SWU
The Ateneo Blue Eagles bounced back, and boy, did they do it with an exclamation mark!
During the warm up drills, some of the players were animatedly dunking the ball, little did anyone know that it was a portent of things to come.

Slaughter had a dunkfest, Salva regained his shooting touch, Ravena was everywhere; everyone contributed in many different ways. Absent today were Poy Erram and Ryan Buenafe. Gib Babilonia was around but in street clothes.
Starting for the Blue side were Slaughter, Chua, Gonzaga, Tiongson and Ravena.
It was nice to see Slaughter back in harness and starting in his usual role at Center.
It was a very effective first five, although the first four minutes saw both teams trading baskets with Ateneo leading by 1 to 3 points during this leg. Greg Slaughter got fed the ball down low quite a number of times but SWU Rookie Center Ben Mbala took a very tough defensive stance early on. He would pay for this by getting into early foul trouble. Mbala sat out most of the 3rd and early part of the 4th quarters on 4 fouls.

Slaughter took it hard to the basket with every available opportunity and clearly his mind-set was on scoring from inside...or high up...
His aggressiveness on the defensive end cost him two fouls late in the first quarter and he sat out the rest of the half. Frank Golla and Kris Porter (7 points, 5 rebounds in 7 minutes of play) stepped up and provided able support at the slot. Ditto with Oping Sumalinog who again drained 2 3-point shots, this time coming off the bench. Ateneo finished the opening canto ahead 23-12.
It was a pleasure watching Nico Salva today. he only had 10 points but it was on 5 out of 8 shooting (63%) in 17 minutes of action. He also had 4 boards and 2 assists.
By the second quarter, the game started to get more rugged as Ateneo padded on it's lead. Maybe it was a way of psyching out an opponent but some of the fouls were downright physical. The referees gamely tried to get the game under control by calling a couple of technical fouls for complaints and game delays but that wasn't the issue. Sigh...
Midway through the 2nd quarter, Three straight turnovers by the Eagles caused six straight unanswered points that saw the Cobras creep closer. A quick time out rectified this and Ateneo again pulled away.
The first half ended with Ateneo leading by 19 points on a last second follow up by Tonino Gonzaga.
The second half started with the same crew that started the game. Why fix what ain't broken...
Mbala was not as dominant as he was during the San Beda game as fouls caused him to spend more time on the bench. He still accounted for 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in limited minutes (22). Still, he should be someone to reckon with as he develops in the next few years. I heard a rumor that a UAAP team is thinking of recruiting him after watching that 27 point explosion against SBC.
Kiefer Ravena was all around the court. Scoring (16), rebounding (4), and assisting (5) and doing the little things that make his team mates better. 
Ravena goes for a lay up only to find Mbala between him and the basket. He tosses up a looper that bounces around the rim before dropping in. 2 points!
With 3:11 to go in the third, Ateneo opened its biggest lead at 70-43.
In the meantime, Greg started to catch fire and will manage to score 18 points (16 in the second half) including 5 rim rattling dunks (I only managed to capture 4)!


It wasn't all dunks, he also managed to block a shot of Mbala.
SWU managed to outscore Ateneo in the 3rd 24-22, but the Blue Eagles still maintained a 72-55 lead.
Back up center Justine Aboude had a better game today with 11 points and 4 boards but managed to foul out in the early goings of the 4th quarter. It was while he was on the court that SWU started to mount a comeback. Mbala came back and tried to continue their momentum and managed to cut  Ateneo's lead to 14 and the Cobras must have felt that another uprising was imminent. They tried to play physical and bodied up on the ball carrier...
But Ateneo is not San Beda. Lightning does not strike twice.
Sometimes doing something contrary is more intimidating to an opponent. One may expect retaliation, instead the Eagles showed sportsmanship...

Here, Greg may be getting some practice speaking Bisaya and renewing ties with Bonifacio Guillena (12 points, 8 rebounds). 
Anway, going back to the SWU ralley, in an act of sheer brilliance, Ravena drove on Ben Mbala and made a wrap around pass to a trailing Greg Slaughter...
 ...who converted on an easy lay up and one and got Mbala to commit his last foul of the game.
That was all she wrote...the uprising fizzled out and it was time to send in the shock-troopers. Sometimes having a big lead allows the back-up players to get more exposure on the court. It was nice to see the likes of Pessumal (6 points, 7 rebounds), Capacio, Porter and Isaac Lim get extended minutes in the court.
Tonino Gonzaga scored 8 points while Justine Chua, Nico Elorde and Juami Tiongson each contribute 6 points to the cause.
Here are the veterans cheering on the players on the court in the dying minutes of the game.
For SWU, point guard Monbert Arong, finished with 17 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals in a great all around performance.
With regards to stats, what was telling was that Ateneo managed more assists 18-11 and rebounds 45-41. Also 3 players from SWU fouled out including their 2 foreign centers (Aboude, Mbala, Goloran).
Next up, San Beda...  

Michael Jordan was also supposed to have said: "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships". It was players like Gonzaga, Elorde and Ravena who constantly drove in on fast breaks and sacrificed their bodies to get Aboude and Mbala into foul trouble.

To borrow a phrase from boxing, they went for the body shots while Slaughter provided he killer blows.

Kiefer also attempted a dunk but it ended up bouncing off the rim.

The performance of Oping Sumalinog during these PCCL games is reminiscent of how he was playing during the PCCL games of 2009, before he had that injury, making him  sit out a year. Hopefully, he will steadily improve from here on and one day maybe we will see him in the PBA.
I managed to catch Coach Sandy in the parking lot before the game and asked about the head coach far nada... 

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