The highlight of the Ateneo bonfire was the introduction of the Ateneo Blue Eagles. Simply put, if there was no Ateneo Blue Eagles championship there is no bonfire. Case closed. Bonfire host Macky Escalona started out by giving graduating guard Eric Salamat some nice words. He said that he was on his 5th year when Eric came in and is happy to see him develop into the kind of player and person the Ateneo envisioned him to be when they recruited him. Another player who was given due recognition was Jumbo Escueta who will not be eligible anymore next year.
The scene immediately shifted to the Finals MVP Ryan Buenafe. Remember last year when Ryan said "Basta alam ko next year three-peat tayo!" Everyone laughed, but this year everyone was intent in hearing out what Ryan has to say about the chances of the team next year. He then said " I think Bacon should be the one who we should ask about it!" Then Bacon said " Next year Four-peat na tayo!"
Coach Norman Black was finally out to say what has happened. He knew right from the start that he had the tools to win a title. He described this year's Blue Eagles as the most hardworking. More importantly he said the Blue Eagles are all intelligent and sacrificed a lot. He mentioned that he started Emman Monfort in the finals because he matched up better with RR Garcia. He said Team Captain Eric Salamat gave his spot for the good of the team. As we all know the gamble paid dividends. Lastly he thanked the support of the Ateneo community. He said that seeing everyone in the games makes him proud and happy since Ateneo has always outnumbered each and every opposing UAAP Team.
Coach Norman eventually called the leaders of next year's team, the Blue Eagles who will be in their last year and lead the team - Kirk Long, Bacon Austria and Emman Monfort. Each of them thanked the Ateneo community for their support and asked them to support the team once again on their final year. Kirk Long was very vocal about the support everyone gets while Emman Monfort said that his role will be easier next year simply because of the additions next year.
Coach Norman then said, " We are excited next year because we have another good recruiting year. We hope that Kiefer considers staying in the Ateneo. Also is Greg Slaughter here?" Then for the first time, the 7- foot Greg Slaughter came out of his slumber and was introduced to the Ateneo community. He seemed to have dwarfed JP Erram and Coach Norman Black. He is definitely huge and the Ateneo hopefuls are expecting a huge game from him next year.
After all the talking, the emcees egged Eric Salamat to show again to the crowd his post game dance moves. If you were somewhere else during the awarding, Eric Salamat stole the show by dancing with the Blue Babble Battalion in a show of elation to the support of the BBB. He gamely agreed and the Eric Salamat dance was passed from Eagle to another Blue Eagle who also gamely showed their dance moves. It was a scene to behold and a scene that can only be seen in the Ateneo Bonfire.
Coach Norman led the lighting of the bonfire. Three straight and hopefully we can make it four straight. For the Ateneo Blue Eagles, hope springs eternal and we are sure that the challenges next year will be doubly hard, but rest assured Coach Norman will have the team ready for the war. All roads would have to go to Katipunan before any pretender can lay its hands on the UAAP Season 74 crown.