The Games that Play Us: Schooled

Nico Salva and the Blue Eagles schooled the
DLSU Green Archers to submission.
(image by Philip Sison/

AdMU Blue Eagles over the DLSU Green Archers, 79-62

With less than 6 minutes to go in the game, Nico Salva got the ball at the top of the key. He was being guarded by DLSU’s newcomer big man Norbert Torres, who was at least 3 inches taller than Salva.

Instead of going to his strong side, the Ateneo forward decided to go left. The not-exactly-fleet-of-foot Torres struggled to keep pace with Salva’s quick first step. The Blue Eagle senior took one dribble and went under Torres’s outstretched arms, banking the rock off the backboard for the deuce.

It was a one-on-one move executed to perfection. It was also a play that pretty much defined the whole game between the bitter rivals. Torres got schooled by Salva, and La Salle got schooled by Ateneo.

Simple as that.

In contrast to his woeful effort against UE, where he shot 1-of-12 from the field (the TV commentators kept on harping 0-for-12; keep your facts straight guys), Salva was much better here. He made 9 of his 18 attempts, though it did take a while to get him going. It looked like he would continue to misfire until JP Erram dropped him a pass on the baseline for a short stab. That probably got Salva’s pistons clicking, and then he just tore the Greenies’ defense to shreds.

It was by no means an all-Salva show, though. The high flying Eagles received contributions from across the spectrum as Kiefer Ravena, Emman Monfort and bench blur Tonino Gonzaga all finished in double-digits. They were also an all-around bunch, combining for 17 rebounds, 11 assists and 4 steals.

Tonino Gonzaga was super off the bench
for the Loyola quintet.
(image by Philip Sison/
The way things ended, however, was a far cry from how things started. La Salle was pumped right from the tip-off. They resembled giddy, pimple-faced adolescent boys in their first soiree – full of energy and eager to impress.

In fact, Gang Green succeeded in one major objective – taking out Greg Slaughter from the equation early on. Tagged with his 2nd foul in the space of the games first 4 minutes, the man mountain had to sit out the rest of the half.

But one thing La Salle may not have counted on is how Greg’s back-ups would rise to the challenge. Justin Chua, JP Erram and Frank Golla didn’t put up huge numbers, but they held the fort well enough to prevent DLSU’s bigs from wreaking havoc. Arnold Van Opstal and Torres did finish 1-2 in scoring for the Taft cagers, but they did that mostly in the second half, when “catch-up” became the theme of the match.

DLSU is not the happiest of places right now.
(image by Diana Moraleda/
Speaking of “catch up”, the Archers still find themselves trying to catch up with the top four teams. They remain winless in the 2nd round, and they don’t have the easiest of schedules to grapple with. At 4-7, they cannot afford another loss if they still want to break into the semifinals by season’s end. They have a fair chance of returning to the win column against UP on Thursday, but their chances dip significantly against NU and FEU thereafter.

In the meantime, the Hail Mary Squad, at 11-0, is assured not just of a Final Four slot, but a twice-to-beat edge as well. If they go on and sweep the whole thing, then an automatic Finals berth and a thrice-to-beat advantage is in the offing. But with the Fighting Maroons, the Bulldogs and the Soaring Falcons still waiting for another crack at the champs, the Eagles aren’t out of the woods yet. Far from it.

One BIG Fight!

Emman Monfort helped Ateneo clinch
the twice-to-beat edge in Season 74.
(image by Philip Sison/

AdMU 79 – Salva 19, Ravena 13, Monfort 13, Gonzaga 12, Slaughter 8, Chua 7, Long 6, Tiongson 1, Austria 0, Golla 0, Erram 0, Sumalinog 0
DLSU 62 – Van Opstal 13, Vosotros 9, Tampus 9, Torres 8, Villanueva 6, Revilla 6, Atkins 4, dela Paz 3, Paredes 2, Webb 2, Marata 0, Mendoza 0, Gotladera 0
QS: 14-11, 31-26, 53-42, 79-62

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