Friday, November 30, 2012

PCCL Finals 2 Buzz Kill

Buzz Kill  (Slang) The act of ruining a special moment.

ADMU 70-69 UST

UST supporters came out in full force hoping for a sweep in the PCCL finals against Ateneo. Approximately 90 of the crowds that were gathered were cheering for the black and gold.
Coach Pido Jarencio also probably smelled victory looming nearby as he left his sickbed and a bout of German measles to play lead tactician on the bench. 
It would, after all, have been their first PCCL title, if events went their way. Unfortunately, The Blue Eagles, led by Kiefer Ravena and fate had other plans.
Ateneo was coached by Gabby Severino with Coach Sandy A and Bo Perasol nearby.
Call me superstitious, but as I mentioned in past writings or musings, so long as there are dunks going on during the warm ups, the Blue side usually wins.
Starting for the Blue side of Katipunan were Chua, Gonzaga, Ravena, Tiongson and Salva. This is the first start for Justin Chua in these games. Nico again took the center slot. Ravena was looking over to the "dark" side (they had "light" uniforms) and seemed to be assessing the UST line-up.
UST's first five consisted of Abdul, Afuang, Ferrer, Fortuna and Jeric Teng.
Salva beats Karim Abdul to the ball and taps it to a team mate. And we're off...
Ateneo started like a house on fire and turned their energy levels up a notch in the early going of the game. The players were very offensive minded and went for the basket whenever they were open. Passing was also like thin crust pizza, extra crisp.
Salva starts hostilities with a jump shot near the top of the key. Salva, Slaughter and Sumalinog (hmmmm, that's 3 names that start with S) skipped their D-league game to be with their Alma Mater. Nico Salva actually had a key game with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists.
Ravena was in the zone! His first assist was to Tonino Gonzaga while off balance. Gonzaga complimented the assist with a 3 point shot.
Kiefer also accounted for three 3's in the first quarter.
The Germans have a word that could summarize the first quarter: Blitzkrieg. Roughly translated, it means "lightning war" get the picture...It's one of those moments when your friends tell you "you should have been there!".
After some lane incursions, some dunks and some jump shots...
when there is a lull in the action, the opposition usually gets together and tries to find a way to counter.
At the 1:45 mark of the first quarter, after a Ravena 3-point shot, Ateneo posted the biggest lead in this finals series at 17, 28-11. Ravena would score 12 of those 28 points.
After Jeric Fortuna counters with his own three on the other end, the first canto winds up with The Eagles sporting a 14 point edge.
Now, this is by no means a comfortable lead; the UST players have embraced their coach's "never say die" attitude and they always do find a way to claw back.
The second quarter basically saw both teams trade baskets. Ateneo managed to keep a 13 point lead going into the half.
The only things of note are:
1. Jeric Teng was quiet and only managed to make his first two points at the 0:50 mark off free throws.
2. Ateneo sill had 2 fouls to give in the last 17.9 seconds and used them to prevent the UST dice from making an attempt at the basket.
3. UST made better use of the opponents turnovers by scoring 9 points of them against Ateneo's 2.
4. Ateneo had a 60% shooting percentage in the first half against UST's 34.4%. They also had more rebounds, 18-15 and assists, 11-6. It looked like things were going well on the Blue side but then again, the law will always catch up with you sooner or later...the law-of-averages, I mean.
The 3rd quarter was more eventful. The Ateneo players on the court started to be a bit more careless with the ball towards the tail end of the 2nd Q and this continued in the 3rd. These turn overs together with a number of fouls allowed UST to trim the lead to 10. Unfortunately, the Tigers were not able to capitalize on the free throws in this quarter, missing 6 of the 12 freebies.
With 8:12 to go, Juami Tiongson took a jump shot from near the top of the key and landed on the outstretched foot of Kevin Ferrer. This resulted in a sprain and he had to sit out the remainder of the game with his ankle on ice. Some people maintain that this was intentional, but I don't think Ferrer is a dirty player who would intentionally hurt another. He plays hard and tried to use every advantage he can get, and maybe sometimes gets carried away, but I don't think he committed the foul intentionally.
I also don't like posting photos of hurt players, but this is a photo of Salva acting the big brother and making sure Ferrer knows he will be watched from this point on.
Nico Elorde subs for Tiongson and takes the free throw but misses. He was a great back up for the injured Tiongson with his quarter backing and defense that Ravena gave him credit during a post game interview.

Also during the 3rd (6:59) Ravena gets a breakaway drive that catches Fortuna flat-footed and results in an unopposed dunk.
As expected Ravena and Ferrer are guarding each other during the game and after the Tiongson sprain go at each other with increased intensity such that on one play both get called with a double foul.
UST manages to bridge the gap to 5, 54-49 when a 3 point shot by Gonzaga gives them some breathing room. The 3rd ends with Ateneo still leading by 8, but UST can smell blood in the water.
Gonzaga manages to make 3 out of 3 rainbow attempts and 2 of 2 free throws for a near flawless offense (1 of 3 2-point attempts). He also effectively guards UST ace gunner Jeric Fortuna.
UST tries to make a run at the start of the 4th with a 10-0 run to take the lead (57-59). Jeric Teng comes alive and hits a 3 and gets fouled for an and 1. Teng catches his breath after he gets knocked to the floor after the made 3.
Gonzaga, Ravena, Chua, Golla and Buenafe are in for Ateneo and UST has a short line up in Teng, Abdul, Mariano, Fortuna and Bautista.
Slaughter comes in for Chua after 2 minutes or so have gone by and manages to stop the draught with 2 points at the 7:37 mark. A few exchanges later the game is tied at 62.
At around this time, Slaughter is about to take a short stab when Abdul goes for the ball but gets an arm instead. He gets whistled for his 4th. As he complains to the refs he turns around and doesn't see Gonzaga in his path and knocks him down (unintentionally) but instead of helping the fallen player down he continues to bicker. The referee has had enough and calls him for a T for excessive complaining, which means a 5th foul and retirement from the game.

This is a very unfortunate incident as the outcome could have been different had Abdul stayed. The complexion of the game could have also been more engaging.
This is an interesting anecdote. About halfway through the 4th (Ateneo ahead 68-64), Arvin my friend, who is a stone cold die hard Atenean, tells me that part of him wishes that the tournament would end on that day because of the usual December commitments he has. Soon after that UST comes back and takes a 1 point lead 68-69. It's a good think he took it back! Events unfolded quickly after this.
With 1:32 left, Slaughter gets fouled but misses both and UST runs back to their side of the court hoping to pad their lead.
Fortuna has been having a great game. If this were his last game in a UST uniform and they became champions, his fame would have been near legendary status (18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists). He was throwing up 3's and making them when they were needed.
He threw up a hurried 3 with 1:13 left in the game and missed, the ball went out of bounds and Coach Pido sued for time.
At the resumption of play, Teng inbounds the ball into the hands of Fortuna who is being watched with Eagle eyes by Gonzaga who has been hounding him all game long. He dribbles the ball beyond the arc killing time and maybe showing his intentions. As the shot clock winds down he launches another three that bounces off the rim.
Slaughter is in great position to corner the rebound who fires a pass to Gonzaga who misses a lay up.
UST hurries back to their front court knowing time is winding down. They set up a play that finds Mariano with the ball and he attempts a short jump shot that finds it's way out of bounds with 1 second left in their shot clock (18.6 seconds left in the game). Another UST time out to plan.
Pido Jarencio puts in his 3 point shooters to increase his offensive options. Teng, Fortuna, Ferrer, Mariano and Afuang can all make this shot. If they get lucky. Afuang rifles a pass to Ferrer who launches a 3 from left quarter court that comes low. The ball is headed for Salva who taps it to Gonzaga who in turn spots Ravena streaking towards their basket. His pass is flawless and Ravena goes in for a lay in. You can see the expectant look of the people in the background. He makes the shot and pandemonium erupts as Ateneo takes the lead at 70-69. Time left 11.4 seconds.
The Tigers have one last chance to salvage this game. Fortuna brings the ball up, but this time he is looking to pass. Gonzaga is around to thwart any attempts.
He dishes off a pass to Melo Afuang who is in the deep left corner and he launches a three. Ryan Buenafe has been lurking around considering options and he is close by Afuang and makes a desperate lounge and manages a clean block. Time down to 3 tenths of a second.
Fortuna takes the last ditch attempt and his shot falls short of the basket. The Blue Eagles snatch a close win in the dying seconds by playing great defense.
Throughout his college career Buenafe has taken a lot of criticism. Few people give him credit for his achievements. I know I breathe a little easier when I know that Ryan is around on game day.  He is a very shy person off the court, but inside it he transforms into someone who can take charge of the game, who can take care of the intangibles, who can shoot, rebound or assist as the need arises. He has great court vision and this allows him to play the defensive passing lanes very well and anticipate other players options. He still has some maturing to do, but his will always be an asset to any team.
So, Ateneo lives to play another day. They should make it count!
After sitting out game 1, Oping Sumalinog played and contributed 2 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist.
 After a slow start Teng manages to finish with 12 points, 5 boards and 3 assists. Karim Abdul has 13 points, 8 rebounds and a block.
Slaughter (14 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks) must be betting with Kiefer Ravena (21 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) after the game who would be chosen Best Player and get interviewed...
 Guess who?
Kiefer mentions the strong start they had but then the team always relaxes after they pad their lead. Hopefully this will be corrected by game 3.
During his post game interview, Coach Gabby praised Ravena for his performance. he said that "Once a winner, it's hard to get off that track. It's in his (Ravena's) character trait. He doesn't shy away from big shots and challenges."

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