Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ateneo repeats over La Salle 65-57

Finally after years of recruiting and polishing the defensive skills of the Blue Eagles, the team is now reaping the fruits of their hard work. Nonoy Baclao and Rabah Al-Husaini underscored the strength of the Ateneo Blue Eagles frontline as they led the Blue and White to a win over the De La Salle Green Archers 65-57. Both big boys played on both ends of the court as they rattled the DLSU big guys and played solid defense all through out which infected their team mates to do the same. It was one of those rare times that the Blue Eagles lead from start to finish and never relinquished the lead.

Will he be this year's MVP?

Rabah was a tower of power scoring 18 points and pulling down 11 rebounds while Nonoy Baclao backed up Rabah with 11 points, 6 rebounds and four blocked shots as the Blue Eagles raised no doubts as they come out infirst place with a 13-1 slate. Both Rabah and Nonoy gave the Green Archers a hard time with their drives and post up plays that made the Archers settle for jumpers. Incidentally, in the Juniors Division, the Blue Eaglets also whipped their co-leader, the DLS-Z Junior Archers 69-64 to end the eliminations also at no.1 with at 12-2 slate.

Ryan Buenafe scores on the fastbreak

The Ateneo Blue Eagles were all business this time as they immediately jumped the gun over the Green Archers by starting off with two free throws for by Chris TIu. But this time the free throws came on the court since Coach Franz was wearing an ID. As the Eagles extended the lead to 4-0 James Mangahas came alive with a foul counted drive and free throw to cut the lead to 4-3. After that the Eagles clamped down on the Green Archers as Jai Reyes frustrated Jayvee Casio to no avail as Casio missed all his shots in the first quarter while Chris Tiu and Jai Reyes sank three pointers to bury the Green Archers in an avalanche of points. The Eagles raced to a 16-4 lead and never looked back as they ended the quarter with a 21-12.

Ryan confronts Rico

In the second quarter the Green Archers started to comeback courtesy of Rico Maeirhofer and Simon Atkins who had a superb game with 9 points and 5 assists. The Archers cut the Ateneo lead to four 26-22 after Bader Malabes hit a three pointer at the top of the key. In the return play Jai Reyes sank a cold blooded three pointer to give breathing room for the Eagles. Nonoy Baclao was the big difference in this quarter as he blocked three shots and sent a message to the DLSU team that he owned the middle. Eric Salamat on the other hand converted on fastbreaks and drives as the Blue Eagles quelled another DLSU run which was capped by a basket by Mike Baldos at the end of the half to give the Eagles a 36-28 lead. The superb defensive effort done by the Eagles showed that they are priming up for the big time as they held the Green Archers to only 28 first half points.

Yuri and Jai made JV disappear

The third quarter saw the Green Archers tighten their defense and come back to within three points 36-33 after Simon Atkins drained a three pointer. Atkins was a revelation, unfortunately whenever he scored a basket in comes LA Revilla to spell him. JV Casio was still invisible in this quarter as the King Archer had a hard time shooting and his penetrations were met by Ateneo Big men if he gets past by his guard.As a result DLSU doubled its effort on defense and clamped down on several Ateneo players that enabled them to come to within that three point deficit.

This time Nonoy was at both ends of the court

That was the cue for Forward Nonoy Baclao to come out of his shell and contribute. Nonoy scored 4 and 6 points respectively in the games against NU and UP but sensing that he is the only one uncovered he rose to the occasion to contribute to the team’s offense. He started off by scoring on a pick and roll with Eric Salamat which left him all alone at the baseline for the two points. After that he found himself all alone at the top of the key and then he drained a surprise three pointer. After that, as if he was not content on the damage he has done, Nonoy scored on an up and under play off Rico Maierhofer after posting him up. When Rabah Al-Husaini joined the fray the Eagles suddenly enjoyed their biggest lead 54-39 and the quarter ended with the Eagles pulling away 54-41.

Jai Reyes pointed the direction for the Blue Eagle victory

One thing that has made the De La Salle Team a well oiled machine is its ability to come back in the face of adversity. At the start of the fourth quarter, Bacon Austria committed two fouls off two Ateneo turnovers as the Green Archers caught fire as they rattled seven straight points to cut the Ateneo lead to six 54-48. JV Casio came alive to score on a free throw, a lay up and a jumper. Unfortunately that was the last that Casio was heard off as the Blue Eagles frustrated him once again after sensing that he might suddenly explode and give him back his confidence. Jayvee enjoys fourth quarters but this game was not his as Yuri Escueta and Jai Reyes found ways to frustrate his jumpers and drives to the hoop.

Jack: Coach may 2 game win streak naman me ah, why u go back? No trust?
Franz: Wag ka maingay di ko pa alam paano irereimburse pamasahe ko!

Rabah Al-Husaini scored on a post up play to give Ateneo its first two points of the quarter. La Salle tightened its defense and Ateneo had a hard time scoring but still delivered the goods in the endgame. In the end, it was the shut out on JV Casio which spelled doom for the Green Archers, it was a pitiful sight seeing him not being able to buy a basket as the Ateneo defense gave him a hard time which was evidenced by his poor 2 of 16 shooting for the night, his worst performance in years.
Jai Reyes, who went 3 of 4 from the three -point area sealed the win for the Eagles with a free throw as Ateneo won twice over La Salle again in the elimination for the second year in which the last time this happened was in the 1986 and 1987 seasons. Ateneo is now trying to catch up with the Green Archers in their head to head match up with DLSU still ahead 34-25.

Mary for you

If the 2008 Ateneo Blue Eagles move on to capture their fourth UAAP Title then we can say that this season can be judged as one of the best if not the best UAAP elimination round romp of any ATENEO UAAP team. Thirteen wins and one loss, the only other Ateneo team to have the same record is the 1987 Champion Team which lost its first game against the defending champion UP Maroons and then won 14 straight games enroute to the school’s first UAAP Title in any sport.

"...We pray you'll keep us Mary Faithful to you!"

Yes that team was 14-1 but unknown to many is that the team actually lost two games, the other one a 91-89 first round loss to UST which was overturned when one of their players, Federico Oblina, was found to be ineligible and then their win was forfeited in Ateneo’s favor. So this means, this team is on a mission to establish itself as the best Ateneo UAAP team ever. I myself can’t wait it to happen!!! GO ATENEO!!!

The scores:

Ateneo (65)

Al-Hussaini 18, Baclao 11, Reyes 10, Tiu 9, Salamat 8, Baldos 4, Escueta 3, Buenafe 2, Austria 0, Burke 0, Salva 0.

De La Salle (57)

Maierhofer 16, Atkins 9, Barua 8, Malabes 7, Casio 5, Mangahas 4, Villanueva 4, Ferdinand 2, Walsham 2, Bagatsing 0, Revilla 0, Webb 0.

Quarter scores: 21-12; 36-28; 54-41; 65-57

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