Sunday, July 6, 2008

ATENEO beats LA SALLE 79-73

The De La Salle Green Archers won a lot of UAAP titles under Coach Franz Pumaren because of their defense, and this was what kept them in the game against their arch rivals the Ateneo Blue Eagles at the start of Season 71 in the UAAP. Unfortunately opening day jitters was too much to handle for the defending champs as they missed 16 free throws that allowed the Ateneo Blue Eagles a 79-73 win.

Chris Tiu, Ateneo’s very charismatic leader started the Ateneo first quarter onslaught as he scored five points in Ateneo’s 9-3 start which had Eagle rookie Ryan Buenafe score his first UAAP points on a drive. DLSU quickly retaliated and leveled the score through the leadership this time of their top gun JV Casio. Both teams battled on equal footing with both teams coming up with heads up plays like DLSU’s LA Revilla’s three pointer and fastbreak pass to a streaking Rico Maierhofer’s and Ateneo’s Bacon Austria’s 24 second buzzer beating bank shot to give the Blue Eagles a 17-16 first quarter lead.

The second quarter was a an Ateneo opened up a four point lead 22-18 on Nonoy Baclao and Kirk Long’s scoring but James Mangahas and Maierhofer countered with their own baskets to equalize at 22-all. After Chris Tiu hit a jumper the Archers caught up with the Eagles 25-24 on JV Casio’s three pointer. Rookie Joshua Webb showed DLSU fans a glimpse of the future as he pumped up the team with his defense and offense as he combined with his High School team mate Simon Atkins to give DLSU a 40-35 halftime lead. Ateneo was forced to ten turnovers which resulted in ten points in the first half while La Salle was 6 of 16 from the stripe.
In the third quarter JV Casio went to work early as he scored on two amazing daredevil drives as against Tiu’s lay up and Baclao’s free throws as DLSU takes a 44-39 lead. Ateneo then caught fire as Tiu scored four points with Rabah Al-Hussaini scoring on two free throws as the Blue Eagles seized the lead 45-44. Rico Maierhofer suddenly caught fire as he gave the lead back to DLSU 49-47. Both teams engaged in a see saw match as Ryan Buenafe and Eric Salamat waxed hot and Ateneo ended the quarter with a 56-54 lead.

The fourth quarter started with DLSU on a 6-0 tear to lead 60-56 with momentum on their side. Maierhofer attacked the basket to no avail as he teamed up with rookie David Joshua Webb and James Mangahas to give DLSU a 67-61 lead with 7 minutes left. Then the Blue Eagles tightened on defense as the Blue Eagles came back as they went on a 10 – 0 tear with Al-Hussaini and Eric Salamat scoring four points each to give Ateneo a 71- 67 lead. JV Casio and Rico Maierhofer refuses to give up as they scored on two field goals to equalize at 71-all which was the thirteenth deadlock of the game.

DLSU was about to take the lead when PJ Walsham was left open and ready to score but Nonoy Baclao, with four fouls quickly fought back with an empathic block that sent the Ateneo bleachers in a state of frenzy. Ateneo took a 74-71 lead through the three free throws of Chris TIu and Eric Salamat as La Salle Countered with Maiehofer’s drive to the basket with time down to 50 seconds and Ateneo protecting a one point lead 74-73.

The end for La Salle came after Hyram Bagatsing’s undercut off Chris Tiu gave the Eagle captain three free throws which he capitalized on by sinking two to give Ateneo a three point lead with 38.5 seconds left. Yuri Escueta covers JV Casio well as the ball rotates to PJ Barua who misses a three pointer. Ateneo recovers the ball, is fouled and sinks a free throw to give Ateneo enough breathing room with a four point lead. DLSU failed to score again and fouls Chris Tiu who ices the ball game with two free throws as the Eagles win their season opener.

The rookies played a major role for both teams. Ateneo’s Ryan Buenafe, Nico Salva and Vince Burke showed their DLSU counterparts that they can compete as they negated the good games of David Webb, Hyram Bagatsing and LA Revilla. All these rookies scored with Buenafe and Webb going head to head which looks like something fans from both schools will be seeing in the future.

Side snide: Chris Tiu sank two free throws before the game started as DLSU was slapped a technical foul because their coaching staff was not wearing their identification cards which was agreed upon by the league. On the other hand, JV Casio also sank two free throws before the fourth quarter started as Coach Norman Black was slapped a technical foul for continuous complaining. Commissioner Chito Narvasa showed that he means business as both technical fouls had his blessings. Four time World Boxing Champion Manny Pacquiao was awarded by the UAAP with an award and was there to witness most of the game as he bid both teams good luck. Pacquiao sat beside Manny Pangilinan and most probably cheered for his buddy Chirs Tiu.

Agent Zero Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards dropped by the Araneta Coliseum to watch the first quarter of the game. After the first quarter he left and rode the MRT to TRINOMA where he was expected to grace an event sponsored by Adidas. He was one of more than twenty three thousand fans who watched the game.



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