Sunday, July 13, 2008

ATENEO beats UE, now 3 - 0

High octane offense, straight in your face defense and heart pounding action, the fans were not disappointed with the way things came out as the two only unbeaten teams fought like two true Titans seeking to become the only unscathed team. The Ateneo Blue Eagles and the University of the East Red Warriors engaged in a blink and you’ll miss the action match and after 40 minutes of non-stop action, the Blue Eagles came out as the only undefeated team as evidenced by their 64-58 over the previously unbeaten Red Warriors. Again it was another fourth quarter meltdown for the Red Warriors as the Eagles shut them down in one stretch of the fourth quarter as Ateneo showed their heft and might in securing the early lead in the 71st season of the UAAP. This win avenged their two previous losses in season 70 as the Warriors were the only team that the Eagles did not beat last year.

The Eagles started with Nonoy Baclao, Ryan Buenafe and Rabah Al-Husaini up front with Jai Reyes and Chris Tiu as the guards. The Warriors on the other hand had Elmer Espiritu, Gino Etrone & Pari Llagas at the frontcourt while James Martinez and Marcy Arellano manned the back court.

The first quarter saw both teams try to be deliberate and set up their offense. Unlike their game in the NSL championship where the Warriors rained outside shots, the Eagles were prepared for the sweet shooting Warriors as they more than often had a hand in the face of its shooters. Elmer Espiritu started things for the Warriors with two quick baskets and a jumper while Nonoy Baclao & Chris Tiu countered with four points each for the Eagles. The Warriors were leading 9-8 for quite sometime as both teams exchanged defensive gems and forced each other to turnovers. Just like the game against Adamson, Coach Norman rotated the Eagles on the floor as the game progressed with Yuri Escueta, Nico Salva, Jobe Nkemakolam, Eric Salamat and Bacon Austria ending first 10 minutes. The quarter ended with Eric Salamat’s four free throws to give the Eagles a 12-10 lead.

The second quarter saw the Eagles rack up some points right away as they raced to a 21-13 lead with Chris Tiu, Nonoy Baclao, Eric Salamat & Rabah Al-Husaini combining to give the Eagles that lead. The Eagles were playing an excellent team game as evidenced by one play which had Jai drop a pass to Nonoy Baclao who upon seeing the double team come passes the ball to a surging Jobe Nkemakolam and the Eagles take a 23-15 lead. Then the Warriors came back, James Martinez nails a three while rookie Paul Zamar beats the shotclock for another UE three and Pari Llagas scored four points inside. Before you know it the Red Warriors took control of the game with a 14-5 run to end the first half on top 27-26. UE was 4 of 9 from the three point area while the Eagles was zero of 2 from beyond the arc. The Warriors also controlled the boards with a 25-15 advantage in rebounds.

The wild and wooly third quarter saw both teams go up and down the court and try to outdo each other as both teams offense switched to high gear. The quarter started with the Eagles racing to a 35-29 early lead once again as Nonoy Baclao and Eric Salamat scored on field goals together with Yuri Escueta’s three pointer as against a dunk shot by Elmer Espiritu. Every time Ateneo would try to break away UE finds an answer to stay within striking distance. Paul Zamar belched a three pointer while Pari Llagas scored on a Marcy assist to put them to within three 35-32. On the other end Rabah Al-Husaini scores on a Chris Tiu assist , and on a putback from a Baclao miss.

In an instant UE counters again with a third Zamar three pointer and a Hans Theile jumper off the fastbreak. Nico Salva counters on the other end with a drive to the hoop and so does Rudy Lingannay. Rabah scores on a putback and Pari Llagas scores off Rabah. Lingganay then strips Bacon Austria of the ball and scores on a fastbreak. Ryan Buenafe drives to the hoop and scores on a hang time twinner and UE returns the favor with a Linganay "stop ball" jumper. In the end of all these wild and wooly sequences the quarter ended where it started - tied. UE caught up and leveled at 47 - all after being down by seven points in this quarter. Like what they say there were no quarters taken and there were none given.

The fourth quarter was highly anticipated by all Blue Eagles fans as the Ateneo defense which they have showed in the past two games goes a notch higher in the payoff quarter. The Warriors missed the services of one of its gunners in Paul Lee as his offense was missed more importantly during their scoring drought. The Eagles start the payoff quarter with two rookies (Buenafe & Salva), two sophomores (Austria & Long) and one veteran in Al-Husaini. UE immediately went to work as Hans Theile scores to give the Warriors an early 49-47 lead.

Ateneo needed another hero for this game and it was the same scoring machine who scored heavily on the Warriors in the NSL title game – Rabah Al-Husaini. The big fellah used his height to stamp his class over the Warriors as he scored eight of his team high 18 points in the fourth quarter and pulled down a total of 17 rebounds plus three assists. This is his coming out game in the UAAP. His supporting cast consists of Nonoy Baclao, Ryan Buenafe and captain Chris Tiu. Nonoy was his usual self providing excellent defense and was pretty much mobile around the perimeter area. He got an all important put back in the final minute of the game to seal the victory. Ryan Buenafe used his daredevil drives to attract UE defenders to double on him so that he can create situations that eventually resulted in easy Ateneo baskets. Chris Tiu was there to stabilize the team as his offense came when the Eagles needed it and gave great advices to other team members once they commit turnovers.

In the three games that the Eagles played they showed improved defense as they shut down all their three opponents in the fourth quarter by limiting them to an average of 13 pts while scoring an average of 24 points. The Eagles are now 3-0 and is the only unbeaten team.

Yesterday the DLSU Green Archers led by Jayvee Casio’s 29 points barged into the win column with a 73-62 win over the FEU Tamaraws. They are joined by the UST Growling Tigers who bounced back as they unleashed their true form with a rout over the UP Fighting Maroons 94-75. Earlier the Adamson Falcons defanged the NU Bulldogs 73-65 courtesy of Mark Agustin’s awesome 25 points game. Adamson is now 1-2 while the Bulldogs are the only winless team. Next stop for the Blue Eagles the hosts, UP Fighting Maroons. Good luck to the Eagles and I hope they get their fourth straight win.


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