Vengeance, a Litro of Coke, and Bragging Rights

The diminutive Emman Monfort challenges the
towering Arnold Van Opstal
(image by Jan Dizon/Filoil Flying V Sports)
How we lost to the DLSU Green Archers in the 2011 Filoil Flying V Preseason Premiere Cup, and why we are better because of it.

It was a highly-anticipated game that was sure to feature heated match-ups and tense moments. That’s to be expected when these two titanic academic institutions meet on the field of battle, more so in basketball, which is our people’s passion and chief source of drinking-spree bragging rights.

Doesn’t matter if it’s “only” a preseason game does it? Nope it doesn’t. As long as Ateneo is on one side and La Salle is on the other, butting heads, hurling curses, and displaying bravado are sure to happen. One can throw away Ateneo’s 5-1 standing going into the game, or that it was a “must-win” for La Salle to advance to the quarters. Disregard, too, the fact that Ateneo lost to La Salle in Dubai earlier in the summer. All that is gravy. These two squads would be all too happy to bump and bruise for much less – the ubiquitous litro of Coke would suffice.

Sam Marata had the hot hand
(image by Jan Dizon/Filoil Flying V Sports)

And so they clashed, displaying new weapons for the bigger battles ahead, but make no mistake – there was no pulling of punches here. Gloves were off. The Eagles bared their talons and the Archers had sharpened their arrowheads. Bloodbath ensued.

And initially, it was our beloved Eagles who received the business end of the Archers’ attack. Cold shooting (4-of-19 from the field), 5 costly turnovers, and Sam Marata’s hot hand all conspired to award Ateneo an awful first quarter. The Blue & White were staring at a 10-17 deficit.

Needless to say, it was not the start we expected. Greg Slaughter was supposed to dominate the smaller DLSU frontline. Kiefer Ravena was supposed to run rings around any and all green-clad defenders. The vaunted Ateneo defense was supposed to shutdown the upstarts from Taft. The Loyola faithful were waiting for the floodgates to open.

Come the 2nd quarter, however, they remained shut.
Greg Slaughter couldn't get going
(image by Jan Dizon/Filoil Flying V Sports)

The first Blue Eagle basket came at the 7:47 mark, in the face of DLSU’s smooth-sailing offensive sets and swarming full-court press. By mid-period, the deficit had expanded, 17-26, and all manner of invincibility our boys may have enjoyed lay exposed to ruin. Nico Salva, together with Ravena, engineered a micro-uprising with a variety of jumpers, but the Archers, again through the touch of Marata, kept us at bay with a three that extended Gang Green’s lead to 12 at one point, 34-22.

Was this the team poised to hand us an oh-so-rare four-peat in Season 74? It didn’t seem so. The defense was porous, the shooting was suspect, and our perceived advantages proved to be, well, disadvantageous.

And then Ateneo reminded us of why we should keep the faith. Salva and Emman Monfort conspired in a 9-2 run to end the half that trimmed the sizeable gap to just 5, 31-36, at lemon time. Ah, it looked like the 2nd half would be a different story – our Eagles would spread their wings and show their true feathers.

The 2nd half WAS an improvement, and then it turned into heartbreak.

The Phenom gets bottled up
(image by Jan Dizon/Filoil Flying V Sports)

With Ravena shifting from scorer to playmaker, the Eagles found some open spots and hit some shots – Nico Salva being the chief recipient of Kiefer’s timely kick-outs. Still, DLSU did not relent. The Archers continued plying efficiently and kept the Eagles at bay, with constant turnovers compounding our woes. The Blue & White, though, built some momentum going into the final quarter as Ravena split two defenders for a lay-up and Bacon Austria made good on a buzzer-beating triple over Maui Villanueva to come within a point, 49-48.

Good things continued to happen, buoyed by Norbert Torres picking up his fourth foul early in the final canto and Justin Chua hitting two charities to hand over the lead to Ateneo, 50-49.

But that’s when a returning Archer let loose and found his mark.

LA Revilla missed the past 2 seasons due to illness, and the Archers were worse off because of his absence. He was known as a steady and heady playmaker during his high school days at San Beda, and he had a good freshman year in green, but a combination of diabetes, hyperthyroidism and dengue sent him to the sidelines for 2 years. That sort of hiatus can either hurt a player.

Or motivate him.

LA returned with a vengeance. He shot 2 straight threes and hit Yutien Andrada on a brilliant pick-and-roll to enable La Salle to retake the initiative, 57-50.

Ateneo countered with a 7-1 spurt anchored on Ravena and Kirk Long’s drives and free-throws, but Simon Atkins doused the flames with a dagger three right after a Dindo Pumaren timeout.

61-57. Coach Norman Black sued for his own timeout. Everyone was on pins and needles.

Ateneo went back to the lethal Ravena-Salva combo to tie it all up at 61 in the next minute. For a while there, it seemed our boys could pull the rug from under the Archers – another Houdini-ish escape act worthy of lore.
Revilla was a revelation
(image by Jan Dizon/Filoil Flying V Sports)

But Revilla struck again. Exploiting a split-second when Emman Monfort looked the other way, the spitfirish Revilla cut backdoor for an easy lay-up that gave DLSU the lead for good at 63-61. Coach Black drew up another play off a timeout, but Ravena’s pull-up went short and La Salle’s hustle thwarted any chance of Ateneo storming back. Revilla, who should prove to be a constant thorn on our side when the UAAP wars open, made another basket and Atkins hit one free-throw to put the outcome beyond doubt, 66-61.

The repercussions? We cede the top seed to San Beda, and this roster is now 0-2 against the Archers. Sucks, yes, but we can be consoled by the fact that it is “just” the preseason. That it all doesn’t matter.

Of course, we know it DOES matter. Any loss to the Greenies is cause for concern, and Coach Black’s depressed look at endgame clearly reflected that.

So what now? Do we press the panic button? Will someone’s head roll? Is it time to curse to the high heavens and listen to the doomsday sages?

Hell no.

We have chinks in our game than need tinkering, some rough edges that need smoothing, and some bad habits that need to be discarded. But we are still a VERY GOOD team, and we will be contending for another UAAP crown.

Losing now gives us lessons that will help us win when it matters the most. That has always been the hallmark of our recent championship teams, and there is no reason to believe this present iteration of the Eagles is any different.

We’ll meet the Archers at least twice more, and certainly more than a litro of Coke will be at stake then, but we’ll be more complete, perhaps more ready, to display our own version of “returning with a vengeance.” And then we’ll have even more fodder for drinking-spree bragging rights.

One BIG Fight!

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4 Comment

Is it true that buenafe and dela cruz are out for season 74, if it is true who will be the ones replacing them in the rotation?


AFAIK, DLC was having trouble academically. IF he does leave Loyola, it'll be because of that. Ryan was able to cope with his own acads, but there are other things to consider. Too many good players this year, so difficult cuts were made, and will still be made. Nothing final yet.


Do you think Ateneo will win this season?


Definitely tough. FEU's going to be very very strong. Same with DLSU. Adamson too. i think those are the top 4 right there (along with AdMU). If Parks is allowed to play, then NU could be in the discussion as well. I think AdMU should make the Final 4 easy, even a twice-to-beat edge, but a 4-peat is far from certain, especially if Ryan won't play.