The Games that Play Us: Quite the Scare

Emman Monfort put out an all-around effort
so the Eagles could avert disaster.
(image by Philip Sison/

AdMU Blue Eagles over the UE Red Warriors, 74-70

This tenth win of Season 74 will go down as one of the toughest the Eagles had to pull out. And despite having a vastly superior win-loss card and a deeper roster, the Blue Eagles just weren’t able to put the outcome beyond doubt until Emman Monfort’s clutch charities with only a few ticks remaining.

Channeling Reggie Miller, UE’s JM Noble and Paul Zamar hit back-to-back triples to cut a seemingly insurmountable 8-point deficit to just two points in the dying moments.

JM Noble had another hot night from distance
to pace UE's upset hopes.
(image from
Those two treys, coupled with Monfort’s makes from the stripe, were representative of the whole match. It was a nip-tuck affair, with the lead staying highest at 8 and changing hands often.

Many were surprised the Warriors were able to stick with the defending champs, but if UE’s dismantling of DLSU last weekend and their first round encounter with the Blues were to be taken into account, then nobody should’ve been too shocked that coach Jerry Codiñera’s wards provided a serious challenge.

His dynamic duo of 4th year man Noble and super senior Zamar combined for 36 markers on 15-of-32 FG shooting. They paired up for a total of 6 triples, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. The red-hued 2-headed monster from Recto almost engineered the Blues’ first defeat of the season, and if not for the heroics of Monfort, Greg Slaughter and Kiefer Ravena, then the word pristine would no longer be applicable to Ateneo’s slate.

The terrific troika of Eagles proved to be a trio of statistical marvels. Monfort went for 13 points on top of 6 boards, 6 dimes and 6-of-6 shooting from the line. Ravena finished with a dozen markers and 5 assists, but made his presence felt more on the defensive end by collecting 5 rebounds (all on the opponent’s glass), 3 swipes and 1 rejection. Slaughter, meanwhile, produced a double-double, scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 caroms, with 2 blocks to boot.

Ateneo regrouped in time to get the first
Final Four berth outright.
(image by Philip Sison/
Seemingly absent, however, was the star of last weekend’s win over UST – Nico Salva. The senior forward from San Beda HS got his usual looks, but just couldn’t knock them down. He was successful on just 1 field goal out of 12 tries, though he did get 7 rebounds, dish out 4 assists, and had an emphatic block on Zamar with about 2 minutes to go in the game. Perhaps he’s saving his big guns for La Salle on Sunday?

A friend of mine said that it’s difficult to get motivated against a team like UE. It’s extremely tempting and easy to fall into the going-through-the-motions approach, when that killer instinct should prevail instead. It’s a good thing then that Ateneo found its bearings at just the right time to avoid the humiliation that befell the Bulldogs and the Archers.

But to chalk it up simply to the notion that Ateneo played below par is to discredit the Red Warriors, and that would be a gross injustice. UE, in spite of all the criticism, put-downs, and issues, has been playing great basketball of late. They’ve had the expected blowout defeats, but they’ve also sprung some brilliant shockers. There were flashes of promise here and there, and, with a year of experience tucked under their belts, these Warriors should be a force to reckon with next season. Too bad Zamar’s no longer going to be around to help out as a player.

UE’s press gave the Eagles fits, and if coach Norman Black doesn’t want to see a repeat of this game’s difficulties on Sunday against the self-styled full-court press masters from Taft, then maybe a few adjustments are in order.

UE battled with Ateneo, at times getting physical
to disrupt the Ateneans' plays and mindset.
(image by Philip Sison/
It was a quite a scare at the Big Dome yesterday, and it was nothing short of a big relief that UE fell short in its attempt at blindsiding the Eagles. The streak still stands. The record is still pristine. The pressure, though, gets heavier.

One BIG Fight!

AdMU 74 – Slaughter 19, Monfort 13, Ravena 12, Long 7, Gonzaga 7, Chua 6, Salva 5, Austria 3, Golla 2, Sumalinog 0
UE 70 – Noble 21, Zamar 15, Duran 8, Casajeros 7, Enguio 6, Javier 4, Sumido 3, Santos 2, Tagarda 2, Sumang 2, Flores 0
QS: 15-17, 33-37, 56-39, 74-70

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