Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bulldogs beat Blue Eagles

Kiefer sizing up the opponent

Coach Eric Altamirano of the National University Bulldogs and his coaching staff has coached Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal in countless National Youth Games in the past. The Awesome twosome eventually became the focal point of the Bulldog defense that saw them bleed of their points that did not help the cause of the Blue Eagles against the Bulldogs. This familiarity was what NU brought in the game as the Sampaloc based Bulldogs scored a hard earned 64 – 60 win against the previously unbeaten Ateneo Blue Eagles at the MOA Arena to tie the Blue Eagles with the same 3 wins and a one loss card.
Von drives and pops

The Bulldogs used their tight guarding defense as their calling card as they started the game with a straight man to man defense and dared Kiefer to drive and by the time he goes to the paint he is met by either 6’6 Henri Betayene or 6’7 Troy Rosario or another big man in 6’7 Alfred Aroga.  Kiefer eventually missed all his seven field goals, got four points from the line but issued a nifty assist to Von Pessumal that resulted in a three pointer and an alley-hoop pass to Chris Newsome that resulted in a thunderous dunk by the awesome forward. The quarter ended with both teams tied.

Kris Porter started this game

In the second quarter Kiefer finally sank a field goal to lead the Blue Eagles offense. The Phenom went three for three from the field including a nice three point play. Helping him out in the scoring chores is rookie Arvin Tolentino  who dropped 7 second quarter points. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs capitalized on Tolentino’s lack of defensive intensity as NU’s power forward Troy Rosario constantly attacked him and scored a ton of points to help the Bulldogs recover lost ground and lead at the end of the half 33- 31. It was the first time in four games that the Blue Eagles trailed at the half.

Coast to Coast lay up by Arvin T.

If the second quarter saw Kiefer never miss a field goal, the second half saw him never score on onel. The Bulldog defense continued to hound him on defense as guard Paolo Javelona shadowed him throughout the quarter that had him become a facilitator on offense instead of scoring. Arvin Tolentino and Fonso Gotladera, the San Beda Connection of the Blue Eagles, carried the fight in the third canto as the two would score eight and four points respectively as the Eagles still trailed after three 43 – 49. 

The NU Defense on Kiefer

The Blue Eagles played catch up and with 1:32 left, and the Bulldogs proctecting a 57 – 56 lead, the game eventually became a free throw shooting contest.  The Bulldogs put the game away by scoring on 7 of 15 free throws while the Eagles went 4 of 5 from the stripe and Kiefer missing a cruical free throw that summed up his shooting woes.  Those seven free throws were enough to give the Bulldogs a four point spread at the time the Blue Eagles launched their last offensive.
Arvin sank three three pointers

Just like what basketball purists say there are times when you encounter a team that totally outhustles you, dictates the pace of the game and slows down your run and gun game.  That was what the Bulldogs did. They played straight man to man so that our shooters will be covered most of the time. They fouled the Eagles on the break to prevent them to run, and most importantly clog the middle to intimidate the slashers. Kiefer did score 13 points but went 3 for 19.  For the second straight game, Rookie Arvin Tolentino topscored with 17 points and 9 rebounds, 9 of those coming from beyond the arc, two from the free throw line and  three lay ups including a spectacular coast to coast lay in to posterize Alfred Aroga. Tough luck for the Blue Eagles but this kind on the brighter side, this kind of game blew out the UST Tigers so the Blue Eagles are lucky to have stayed in the game considering that all things pointed against them. Next stop the FEU Tamaraws.

Nico putting the cuffs on Gelo A.

The scores

Rosario 16, Diputado 10, Aroga 9, Khobuntin 8, Alolino 6, Javelona 6, Betayene  4, Atangan 2, Celda 2, Alejandro 1, Neypes 0

Tolentino 17, Ravena 13, Gotladera 7, Pessumal 7,  Elorde 6, Newsome 6, Porter 2, Lim 2, Babilonia 0, Capacio 0

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blue Eagles win over defending champs

former Red Cubs, now Blue Eagles
Arvin and Ponso controlled the paint

He was a former youth campaigner and was one of the highly recruited talents going into the 2011-2012 from San Beda College. Ateneo was one of the schools that showed interest in recruiting him but unfortunately he brought his talents to another school.  In the two years that he was with the De La Salle Green Archers, Alfonso Gotladera languished in the bench and played a total of 13 games in two seasons, logging in 45 minutes, scoring 2 points and getting 6 rebounds. He was unhappy. He eventually made the hard decision to transfer schools since DLSU was stacked with big men and he will most probably play second fiddle to most of them.  Fortunately, the team he transferred to had a hole to fill in the middle which he eventually filled as he scored 17 points and grabbed 8 rebounds to help his new team, the Ateneo Blue Eagles, win against his former team 97-86.

When Kiefer turns the switch on, he's unstoppable

Just like any Ateneo – La Salle encounter there was much hype put in the game.  The defending champions were the favorites since they came into the season with an almost intact line up while the Blue Eagles were in unfamiliar territory as the underdogs this time around owing to the fact that they have so many new faces. The Blue Eagles on the other hand won their first game against a rebuilding Adamson team and the Green Archers just came out from a loss against FEU. All were one in saying that the Green Archers were on a mission to put out the Blue Eagles in this game.

A career best 21 points for Von Pessumal

That mission came to full throttle in the first quarter when the Green Archers raced to a 13 - 4 lead with last year's Mythical 5 selectee Jason Perkins scoring 6 points in that onslaught. The Green Archers pounded the inside which was the Blue Eagle's weakness and from the get go were tenacious on defense.  The Blue Eagles on the other hand were quite tentative at the start of the ball game with Kiefer Ravena being over eager on every play and as a result he was whistled for two offensive fouls.  The Blue Eagles called a timeout and then adjusted and slowly crawled back.

Rookie Arvin Tolentino had a double-double
14 points and 10 rebounds

Fourth year guard Von Pessumal got things going through his magnificent shooting as he helped erase that nine point lead and help the men in blue catch up in the second quarter. The Blue Eagles were suddenly getting stops and doing wonders on offense. The whole Ateneo community wasn't expecting much but were all praying for just a good game from the new look Blue Eagles and what they got was more than they bargained for as rookie Arvin Tolentino and Ponso got going through sheer will.  After two quarters the Blue Eagles were suddenly on top thanks to their stingy defense that limited the Green Archers to just 13 second points while they erupted for 22 points to take the lead at the half 39 - 37.

Kiefer for three

In the second half, Kiefer Ravena showed why he is known as the Phenom while Von Pessumal, Ponso Gotladera, Nico Elorde and do-it-all rookie Arvin Tolentino followed his lead. After Arnold Van Opstal scored his first field goal to tie the score 61-all, Kiefer rattled off three successive three pointers, Arvin scores inside the paint and off a three pointer, Von scores  off a Kiefer miss and Ponso scores a three point play off an offensive rebound. The Blue Eagles went on a 24 - 11 tear to put the game beyond recall. DLSU then employed the hack-a-Ponso strategy in the last few minutes and Ponso went 4 of 8 free throws which was enough to stem the tide. Nico Elorde, who almost had a bad shooting day but had a great stat line with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists, scored six free throws put the game away and give the Men in Blue a 2 - 0 card.

Gotladera to the basket

This win suddenly made the league believe that the new look Blue Eagles are for real.  What was surprising was the Blue Eagle's offense that scored 97 points. The last time the Blue Eagles scored more than 90 points was in Season 72, a 93 - 75 win against the UP Maroons in the 2nd round. Since then this kind of offense has not been seen much less having two players score twenty points. If the offense was sharp, the defense was unforgiving as the Blue Eagles zeroed in on the players that killed them a year before - AVO and Almond Vosotros. The two were nowhere to be found as Ateneo's big men limited AVO to three field goals with zero points in the first half. At the same time, Vosotros shot 6 of 19 from the field with 5 of his points coming at the time when the game was beyond recall.
Kiefer made four three pointers in the 4th period

What excites Blue Eagle fans is that the team is just on its second game of the season and that there is so much room for improvement. Next stop are the UP Maroons and the NU Bulldogs. Now that they have proven that they are contenders, the Blue Eagles are ready to swoop down on their foes and fly high once again and give the league One Big Fight. 

Blue Eagle fanatics are raring to see this five play together

The scores:

Ateneo (97)
K. Ravena 29, Pessumal 21, Gotladera 17, Tolentino 14, Elorde 9, Newsome 7, Apacible 0, Babilonia 0, Capacio 0, T. Ravena 0,

La Salle (86)
Perkins 25, Teng 18, Vosotros 15, Van Opstal 10, N. Torres 8, Rivera 4,  Andrada 2, Sargent 2, Salem 2, Bolick 0, Montalbo 0, T. Torres 0, 

Quarter scores: 17 - 24, 39 - 37, 61 - 59, 97 - 86

Thanks to Arvin Lim, Full-Court Fresh (Martin San Diego), Paul Ryan Tan, Raddy Mabasa for their wonderful pictures 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blue Eagles win opener against the Falcons

Kiefer dunked the ball twice in the second quarter

Kiefer Ravena has played only against one team in the three season openers he has played - the Adamson Soaring Falcons. In his UAAP Seniors debut in 2011 he was held scoreless by the defenes of Coach Leo Austria. A year wiser in 2012 he scored 9 points in another historic win. Last year, Kiefer watched the team lose three straight because of an injury and in his first game back did you know what team he played against? Yes, the Adamson Soaring Falcons again. Kiefer came off the bench in that win to score four points. This year, Kiefer led the new look Blue Eagles to a convincing 79 -57 win against the Soaring Falcons as the Phenom showed the entire UAAP what he is capable of doing.

Chris Newsome scores on this jumper 

Kiefer showed why he is nicknamed the Phenom as he showed his whole arsenal on a variety of things that he is capable of doing. Kiefer scored on drives, he sank jumpers, he made a three-pointer and to cap it all up he scored two emphatic dunks in a game that literally made him light up the stat sheets. Kiefer scored 22 points, pulled down four rebounds, made four assists and blocked a shot. This is the real Kiefer Ravena who is ready to fulfill a promise to his alma mater when he arrived in 2011.

Nico Elorde on a teardrop move

Coming to his aide were the other veterans of the team, Chris Newsome, Von Pessumal and Nico Elorde. Newsome was calm and composed, he did not push things and he scored when needed. ON the other hand, Von Pessumal has taken the task of being the team's mad bomber - his 8 points came from two trhee pointers and a twisting lay up that started from the free throw line which made the Blue Eagle faithfuls excited. Nico Elorde was his usual tough self as he ran rings round the Falcons 2-2-1 pressure defense and came up with an occasional tear drop to score 6 points which he added with 4 assists.

Arvin Tolentino for three

If the veterans were exceptional, the rookies were sensational.  Leading this year's freshmen is the 2013 NCAA Juniors Finals MVP Arvin Tolentino who showed that all the hype about him is true.  Arvin started slow but eventually scored his first two points on a spin move and then followed it up with two three pointers and another field goal on a drive to give him 10 points in the first half of his UAAP debut. He would end up scoring 12 points in the game.

John Apacible posts down low

Another promising rookie is big boy John Apacible who showed that he too can mix it up with the big boys. The third rookie who showed signs of brilliance is Apacible's sparring mate from Hope Christian High School, Clint Doliguez who showed that he can defend well and also score in the short minutes that he played. The fourth rookie Jay Javelosa played in the latter part of the game. Jay got two offensive rebounds and scored on those two opportunities. Lastly, last year's UAAP Juniors MVP Thirdy Ravena was quite jittery and just like his older brother went scoreless in his UAAP Seniors debut.

 Von Pessumal on the drive 

The Blue Eagles started like a house on fire as Kiefer started the game with a jumper then Chris Newsome, G-Boy Babilonia and Nico Elorde added eight points to give the Eagles an early 10 - 1 lead in the first four minutes of the game. After Adamson called a timeout, the Blue Eagles went to overdrive as Kiefer and Von Pessumal scored a three pointer each to lead the Hail Mary squad a 24 -11 first quarter lead.

Ponso Gotladera scores on a reverse lay up 

The Falcons played catch up the whole game but with a line up of 11 rookies it was hard for rookie coach Kenneth Duremdes to come out with a steady rotation. In contrast, Coach Bo Perasol used a full court pressure defense to delay the Falcons offense and have them take hurried shots in the last five seconds. His ploy eventually worked since the Falcons had a lot of 24 second violations.  The new look defense of the  Blue Eagles also showed that they can clog the paint with their bigs as transferee Ponso Gotladera, G-Boy Babilonia, Tolentino and Apacible clogged the lanes which made the Adamson bigs bleed for their points.  The Blue Eagle defense was so stingy in the first half that the Falcons only managed to score 20 points and their offense came at the time when the game was beyond recall and the Blue Eagles had their rookies in the game during the last 4 minutes of the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the best that the Falcons could do was bring down a 27 point deficit to 22 and never came close to threaten the Katipunan based Blue Eagles.

Rookie Clint Doliguez scores on this pass from Kiefer

The next stop for the Blue Eagles would be the defending champion De La Salle Green Archers who are coming out from an opening day loss to the team they ousted last year - the FEU Tamaraws. This will be the ultimate test for the Blue Eagles and for them to win the Blue Eagle offense must click while their defense should be unforgiving.  It's gonna be Nico Elorde vs. Thomas Torres, Kiefer Ravena vs. Almond Vosotros, Chris Newsome against Jeron Teng, Arvin Tolentino vs. Jason Perkins and Ponso Gotladera vs. Arnold Van Opstal. The season of the Blue Eagles has just started and a win against our archrivals will surely boost the confidence of the Hail Mary squad. See you in the games.

John Apacible is fouled 

The scores

K. Ravena 22, Newsome 12, Tolentino 12, Pessumal 8, Elorde 6, Apacible 4, Javelosa 4, Assistio 3, Capacio 2, Gotladera 2, Babilonia 2, Doliguez 2, V. Tolentino 0, K.Ravena 0, Lim 0, Porter 0

Villanueva 15, Rios 15, Trollano 7, Ochea 7, IƱigo 4, Gumtang 4, Baytan 2, Aquino 2, Polican 0,  Monteclaro 0, Barrera 0, Garcia 0

Quarterscores: 24 - 11, 47 - 20, 62 - 35, 79 - 57

Jay Javelosa scores on a putback

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ateneo Blue Eagles gear up for Season 77

In Las Vegas (L-R): Hubert Cani, Clint Doliguez, Thirdy Ravena, John Apacible, Arvin Tolentino, Isaac Go, Aaron Black, Jay Javelosa

Let me quote Pat Riley on this one, is the Ateneo Basketball team rebuilding or retooling for season 77?  One side of the coin says Blue Eagles are rebuilding since the roster is filled with  five legitimate rookies, (would have been six) the most that the team had since 2008 when Ryan B., Nico S., Justin C. and Vince B. came in together with Tonino to help the new era of Ateneo basketball.  The other side of the coin says the Blue Eagles are retooling since the players they got addressed their needs and would probably be the surprise team of the season. 

Will this be Kiefer's breakout year?

Like the rosary, the Hail Mary squad is full of mysteries because this year instead of joining the usual pre-season tournaments here in the country, the Blue Eagles had their usual visit to Las Vegas in the USA and had some pre-season games in Japan and Korea.  The Blue and White hopefuls are raring to see their team play and are praying that this year, the path to redemption is quite clearer than Season 76.

Chris "Awesome" Newsome

Leading the team is the Phenom Kiefer Ravena and the awesome Chris Newsome.   A lot would be on their shoulders mainly on offense and also on defense. The awesome twosome will be complemented by three more veterans  who will ably back them up. Nico Elorde, Von Pessumal and Gwynne Capacio will be the guiding force of the the awesome –twosome as this three hard nosed veterans will help out in easing up the load of the two may it be in offense or in defense.  Our frontline is quite better that last year since it will be headed by the 6-7 transferee Ponso Gotladera.  Helping Ponso in front are the two centers who got injured last year, G-Boy Babilonia and Kris Porter. Expect the three to be banged up this year and any contribution from them will be welcomed since their primary roles would be to defend first and then shoot an occasional hook shot, or make a putback or just simply box out.  Completing the returnees are Vince Tolentino, Isaac Lim and Anton Asistio.
Arvin is ready to show what he's made of

One of the positive notes this year are the rookies that we got.  The fabulous five  has the highly touted power forward Arvin Tolentino, the UAAP Juniors MVP Thirdy Ravena, the sweet shooting Clint Doliguez and the twin bangers John Apacible and Jay Javelosa.  I think the fate of the Blue Eagles will lie on the five! If three of the five would come out with monster rookie seasons to help Ravena and Newsome on offense, to clog the middle with the centers and to shoot with Von, Nico and Gwynne then you have another cinderella finish for the Blue and White.

Von Pessumal leads the fastbreak

There is so much speculation that has been coming out from the forums and from many sources about the campaign of the Blue Eagles this season. Since a lot of us were not able to see them in the off season we are all just thinking of how they will be with their line-up.  So to make things easier I have talked to two Blue Eagles, Gwyne Capacio and Nico Elorde and asked them some questions about the Blue Eagles this year.

  Nico E. shooting a Thureee!!! 

There are too many new faces this year, how will you address team chemistry?

GWYNE: “ The team is pretty much gelled up so you can expect us to play together this coming season.”

NICO : “For this summer and months after UAAP S76 we had a lot of trips that helped us bond as a  team. We also accepted each other’s role and trust our coaches on their decisions.”

Hoping that Kris Porter can be an effective low post threat this year

We ran out of offensive options last year, this year do we have more of that?

GWYNE: “ The rookies this year can really play so that’s a big plus for the team in terms of offense.

NICO: “I think yes we have a balanced team this year which can make it more challenging for our opponents because everyone serves as a threat on the court.”

Gwyne Capacio scores vs. Perpetual

Last year, we got creamed inside the paint, do we have better inside defense this year?

GWYNE: “ Since we’re a small team, we really have to work double time on defense. So during the offseason, we really worked on our defense.”

NICO: “For me I would say Yes because we have a handful of big men this year that can match up with the other team’s bigs!”

The Blue Eagle Brains 

Who among the new assistant Coaches helped you a lot?

GWYNE: "It's not just the new coaches like Coach Ronnie and Coach Xavi but the other Coaches as well. They worked together to help the team and that's really good for us."

NICO: " All of them are very helpful especially Coach Ronnie who helped me improve my decision making and Coach Ricky who helped me improve my defense."

This is not Coach Sandy A. reborn, this is Ponso Gotladera driving to the hoop

DLSU is poised to repeat, how can we derail them?

GWYNE: " We can't really promise to beat them, but you can definitely expect our team to fight and give it our best coming into this season."

NICO: " We just have to play solid defense. I think that will be the key for us to bring back the crown to Katipunan.  We just have to take it one game at a time and improve as a team every game."

Rookie John Apacible mixing it up

How will you rank the teams after the eliminations?

GWYNE: “ Honestly I haven’t really thought about that since a lot of teams this season are strong. Most probably DLSU, UST,UE and of course Us (Ateneo).

NICO: “Its very had to detemine. I think it will be a roller coaster type of season this year so I really can’t tell. But I think the final four will be Us (Ateneo), DLSU, UE & UST.”

Fearless Forecast: “Ateneo All the wAy!

Training Day

Add to that what Team Manager and former Blue Eagle, Epok Quimpo. This is what he said.
“There are a lot of new faces in the Ateneo Blue Eagles this year and I can say that the team chemistry is quite okay. The trainings and team building that we had helped a lot to create a nice bond for the team. The Rookies were able to adjust to what was laid down as well.  Over-all, the Japan and Korea trips made the team aware of the strengths that they can capitalize on and the weaknesses to improve on. It also gave us a venue to see how we play as a team coming to the UAAP. Just like the Blue Eagle teams before, we are targetting the final four first and then take it from there. If there is one thing that we will guarantee is that the team will give the UAAP Season 77 One Big Fight!”

The Blue Eagles are all smiles

You have to hand it to Gwynne and Nico for believing in team. For me, if you don’ think that our team will make it all the way then there is no sense in playing on.  At the same time, Epok addressed the team’s chemistry as we also have to consider that there are also new assistant coaches in former San Beda College Coach Ronnie Magsanoc and former UP Maroons Coach Ricky Dandan. 

A different kind of team picture, At the Olympic Park in Seoul, South Korea

If I were to give a dream scenario for our team, I would say it should be like what the 2008 Blue Eagles did with the team being led by Chris Tiu. In the first round it was the veterans leading the team and helping the rookies get accustomed to college ball. By the second round, the rookies got enough experience and were contributing consistently and defending well.  I think we now have the tools to make it all the way, the only question now is how fast we can sharpen these tools to be able to beat the defending champs. The road to the top of the UAAP Men's basketball tournament is quite shaky, crooked and full of challenges, but as the say there is no easy way to the top and that the more the challenges are, the sweeter the victory.  So once again, lets support the Ateneo Blue Eagles this season and cheer for the Blue and White. See you in the games.  

Thanks to Fr. Nemy Que, Coach Jon Jacinto, Mon Rubio and the BYU-Hawaii site for the pictures