The UAAP 72 Snr Men’s Basketball Season heads to the final match between Ateneo Blue Eagles and UE REd Warriors. Ateneo win Game 3 and are UAAP 72 Champions!
The Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles finally achieved something, that they haven’t achieved about a generation back, during the years of Jai Reyes’ uncle who was part of the back-to-back championship batch of Ateneans dating back 1987-1988, coincidentally a year before the final four system was implemented to the UAAP.
This means, that the defending champions, Ateneo de Manila have literally destroyed the University of the East Red Warriors in their meeting last October 8, 2009 at the Araneta Coliseum, facilitating much pride and reasons to celebrate for Ateneans and Ateneo supporters all over the Philippines, and eventually around the world. The invincible quintet from Katipunan failed to accomplish something many people have sought for since last year prior their shortcoming against the Far Eastern University in their first round meeting in UAAP 71 when they collected their only defeat back then. The same sort of jinx happened this year, with the Blue Eagles coming short in the first part of the Battle of Katipunan against the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons by a ten point deficit, which was their only defeat in the season until Sunday, October 4, 2009.
The Blue Eagles who were predicted to be a much better team (by Head Coach Norman Black) seemed unstoppable, heading into the finals and doing first blood against the challengers UE Red Warriors. But right a game after they’ve silenced the Red Warriors and cut their 8 game winning streak, the UE quintet commenced payback time and left nothing but dust behind as they crushed the Blue Eagles by 20 big points in the second game of the UAAP 72 finals, tilting all the momentum to their side.
But it wasn’t enough, the Blue Eagles eventually learned from their mistakes from that particular game that they have lost against the University of the East, while a handful of Eagles may have learned their lesson from 2006 where they have been in an identical situation prior the start of this game, with a player out due to ACL from UST, and no La Salle in the final four, and having the series tied at a win by both teams (Ateneo striking first blood as well), AND most important to note was UST’s head coach who was in his rookie year too, just like Lawrence.
Eventually, the Blue Eagles have overcome the challenge and lived for another day! As they’ve literally exorcised the ghost that haunted them from the dark 2006 season when the championship was just a few touches away.
With that said, I would like to congratulate the whole Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles team, from the staff to the players for a job well done. It has been an awesome season, and Ateneo has proven very well that they can play even without Chris Tiu at their best, and eventually better than the TIU years. But the seasons ahead look dark and the future unpredictable. No more Al-Hussaini, Baclao and Reyes. Who will step up? The idea of a 3-peat is highly improbable at this point, but it is not impossible. There are still a lot of potential players for Ateneo awaiting for their time to shine, and UAAP 73 might just be the best time to do so.
Ateneo has now won back-to-back; not only in the Seniors Division but as well as in the Juniors Men’s Basketball Division as the Ateneo Blue Eaglets took on the De La Salle Junior Archers in their do-or-die match prior the Senior Game 3.
ONE BIG FIGHT!
Ateneo 71 – Al Hussaini 21, Reyes 16, Buenafe 10, Baclao 8, Salamat 7, Long 7, Salva 2, Monfort 0, Austria 0.
UE 58 – Lee 21, Espiritu 16, Acuña 8, Lingganay 5, Zamar 3, Llagas 3, Flores 2, Reyes 0, Duran 0, Ayala 0.
Quarter scores: 21-17, 40-25, 57-41, 71-58.