The Games that Play Us: First Five

Greg Slaughter, and the rest of Ateneo starters, remained solid
against the UP Fighting Maroons.
(image by Diana Moraleda/

AdMU Blue Eagles over the UP Fighting Maroons, 77-57

There were many possible angles and subplots to focus on in this game.

The oft-repeated Battle of Katipunan rivalry, which might be true in the four walls of the classroom, but perhaps not so much between the two goals on the hardwood.

The plethora of Ateneo’s prodigal sons in UP’s fold – former Juniors standouts Mike Gamboa and Paolo Romero, former AHS Prada main man Martin Pascual, former Ateneo Team B stalwart Mike Silungan, and, to a certain extent, Miggy Maniego and Mikee Reyes (both reportedly matriculated in Loyola at one point or another in their lives, though Reyes is not on the current UP roster).

And, of course, there were those two interesting plays in the second half – UP reserve Jelo Montecastro running after Kiefer Ravena on the break to seemingly try a “Hey just lemme hold your hand” maneuver, and Carlo Gomez’s now infamous “Hey just lemme hold your family jewels” episode with Nico Salva. If you can’t beat ‘em, er, hold ‘em?

"Hey, Kiefer, I just want to hold your hand!
Don't run away!" - Jelo Montecastro
(image by Diana Moraleda/
But there’s only one plot point that matters here, right? It’s this – UP, with the way they’re playing now, just cannot beat Ateneo this season. UP cannot even beat Ateneo’s first five. Our prolific starters combined for 66 points, compared to the Maroons’ endgame total of 57.

In short, save for a surprising first quarter Diliman outburst, the Ateneans mastered UP on practically all fronts. UP came short in FG shooting %, 3PT shooting%, assists and steals, although they did outrebound the taller Eagles, 40-39.

This game showed that the Maroons can only go as far as their outside shooting can take them. They stuck it to the Blue & White in the 1st stanza mainly because of that, and when it abandoned them throughout the rest of the game, not even their vaunted fastbreak attack could make up for the sizeable gap.

Once again, coach Norman Black’s trademark clamp-down D succeeded, albeit it was most evident from the 2nd quarter onwards. Coach Ricky Dandan’s wards mustered only 22 points in the middle 2 periods, which is where Ateneo did the most damage.

The Eagles’ swarming defense made things extra tough for UP’s scoring quartet of Gamboa, Silungan, Montecastro and super soph Jett Manuel. Together, the foursome shot just 10-of-41 from the floor (a paltry 24%), and committed 9 of UP’s 14 turnovers. It’s clear that the same things that make them dangerous to other teams, are also the same things that make them dangerous to themselves.

Mike Silungan makes UP threatening-- to other teams
and to themselves.
(image by Diana Moraleda/
In contrast, Ateneo’s main men were efficient and effective across the table. The starters, aside from the aforementioned points total, got the lion’s share of caroms, dimes, and swipes. The first five also committed 2 less turnovers than UP’s freakish four. It’s a contrast comparable to day and night.

And that’s why UP is still AT LEAST one season away from being a serious Final Four contender. Until coach Dandan can find a way to make his stars minimize their misses and errors while maximizing their strengths, then all the Maroons will be fighting for are scraps from the league leaders. FEU and UST await the Maroons next week, which means, judging by the way those two squads are playing, two more losses are probably in the offing.

Justin Chua has yet to regain the shooting form
that made him a darling in Season 73.
(image by Erwin Cabbab/
The caveat on Ateneo’s side, however, has been a worry since day 1 of Season 74 – the bench continues to sputter offensively. Toniño Gonzaga had a respectable outing with 6 points, but the bench’s stats just aren’t promising – 3-of-17 from the field and 9 turnovers compared to just 3 assists. Granted that this edition’s second and third-stringers aren’t meant to light up the Smart Coliseum’s big cube, but sooner or later other teams will figure Ateneo out (probably sooner since UST and FEU are up to bat), and the bench mob will have to step up and raise those numbers.

For as long as our first five remain potent, though, we’ll win, and win big.

AdMU 77 – Ravena 15, Long 14, Slaughter 14, Monfort 13, Salva 10, Gonzaga 6, Chua 2, Golla 2, Tiongson 1, Austria 0, Erram 0, Sumalinog 0, Capacio 0, Pessumal 0, Cipriano 0
UP 57 – Gamboa 8, Manuel 8, Silungan 8, Maniego 7, Mbah 7, Montecastro 6, Romero 6, Gomez 5, Pascual 2, Wierzba 0, Fortu 0, Juruena 0
QS: 19-21, 42-31, 57-43, 77-57 

Next Post »
0 Comment