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 

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