On the Trail of Champions: Careless Whispers

Jed Austria and the Eaglets reached their 5th win
in 6 games.
(image by Erwin Cabbab/Fabilioh.com)

The UP Integrated School Junior Maroons have been having a terrible season so far. In fact, they’ve yet to win a single game after five tries. What’s worse? They’ve been blown out almost every time. And it doesn’t end there. If things don’t get any better soon, they might end up with ANOTHER winless season. Yes, they went 0-14 last year too (just like their older brothers), and, unfortunately for them, the prospect of ending up with a big fat egg late in September is pretty strong once again.

Okay, I’ll jump to the end and simply say UPIS got flailed by the Blue Eaglets. The Junior Maroons might have been harboring a one-in-a-million chance to spring an upset, especially after their big bros slipped up the Tamaraws two days earlier, but it wouldn’t happen this day (maybe not even any day soon).

But that’s not to say Ateneo’s win was a total romp. We led big, yes, but there were some careless moments there – some careless whispers if you will – that might make things tougher than they should be in future encounters.

The Loyolans started the game strong, going on a monstrous 18-1 blast that served notice of how far the Junior Maroons would have to go to even hang with the Eaglets. So horrific was UPIS’s start that they did not hit a field goal until late in the 1st quarter when the Ateneans held a 23-4 advantage. That field goal was courtesy of Kim Cinco, the Junior Maroons’ scoring leader, hitting a wide-open three. Point guard Diego Dario hit another three, the only other field goal of UPIS by the period’s end. Ateneo continued to roll after that, finishing the first 10 minutes ahead, 29-11.

Tomas Ramos had another good outing for Ateneo.
(image by Erwin Cabbab/Fabilioh.com)
That fast start was spearheaded by a host of Eaglets, most notably our frontline. Kris Porter, Tomas Ramos, and Bolek Vitangcol combined for 16 1st quarter points, ensuring interior superiority for coach Joe Silva’s wards. They continued puncturing UPIS’s innards in the 2nd period, as Porter, Ramos and reserve forward Gabe Capacio extended the Blue & White’s advantage, 37-18 with 6 minutes to go in the half

At this point, I was entertaining thoughts of the Eaglets hitting the half-century mark by lemontime, and I was giddy at the possibility of them being on pace for a hundred points.

But UPIS was as stubborn as a bull.

Led by Cinco and forward Raymart Sablan (who finished the contest with a whopping 20 rebounds!), the Junior Maroons unleashed a furious 15-2 run that trimmed the lead to just 6 with less than a minute left in the half. In that 5-minute stretch, Ateneo was held scoreless, as the Eaglets committed a bevy of errors that held the upset door ajar for UPIS. Tomas Ramos stopped the bleeding with an inside stab right before the halftime buzzer sounded asthe Eaglets’ once mighty lead dwindled to just 8 at 41-33.

This, if any, has been a stark weakness in this edition of the Eaglets. They’ve surprised many by showing consistent firepower from both the inside and the outside, and they’ve repeatedly displayed their scoring punch in going 4-1 entering this game. They have, however, also shown a penchant for relaxing and making silly plays when they’re at a comfortable advantage. It happened in the 4th quarter against both FEU and Adamson, and it happened again here, albeit much earlier than expected. These careless stretches whisper what could be Ateneo’s potential chink in the armor – a chink that, if gone unchecked, could spell disaster down the stretch.

It was good, then, that the Eaglets found their bearings when play resumed.

Fran Asuncion hit a triple to open the 2nd half and to spark an 11-0 run that put things back in order, 52-33, in favor of Ateneo. Both teams proceeded to trade hoops after that, with UP able to eat into the lead, 57-42, when coach Silva sued for time. Raring to stem another impending stretch of carelessness from the Ateneans, Silva instructed his boys to keep their heads together.

And they did.

Vitangcol teamed up with Lambert Tenorio, Anton Asistio and Aaron Black to end the stanza on a 7-0 spurt that restored the enormous lead, 64-42, with 10 minutes to go.

Bolek Vitangcol was a force underneath.
(image by Erwin Cabbab/Fabilioh.com)
And then a little bit of carelessness crept back in.

Several defensive lapses allowed the Junior Maroons to mount an 8-2 burst that trimmed the deficit at the beginning of the final canto, 66-50. Again, coach Silva had to remind the Eaglets that they couldn’t afford to relax against anyone.

The Blues responded anew, closing out the match on a 13-4 spurt that iced the score at 79-54.

The score tells of a heavily lopsided win, and in many ways it was, but in-between the Ateneans’ moments of greatness were also instances of recklessness and mental lapses. It goes without saying that those “careless whispers” need to be checked if Ateneo wants a strong chance at retaining the juniors crown.

Lambert Tenorio and the Eaglets have to be steadier
if they want their own 4-peat.
(image by Erwin Cabbab/Fabilioh.com)
Nevertheless, it was still a good win, and the Eaglets are riding on a 5-game wave on the way to the final match of the 1st round against last year’s losing finalists, the UST Tiger Cubs, who are reeling from a loss to the FEU Baby Tamaraws.

One BIG Fight!

AHS 79 – Tenorio 17, Ramos 15, Vitangcol 11, Gamboa 10, Porter 9, Capacio 6, Asuncion 5, Ladaban 3, Black 2, Asistio 1, Ravena 0, Consunji 0, Puno 0, Lim 0, Austria 0
UP 54 – Cinco 22, Ancheta 9, Pajarillaga 5, Dario 5, Quejada 5, Sablan 4, Ragos 3, Lina 1, Nacpil 0, General 0
QS: 29-11, 41-33, 64-42, 79-54

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1 Comment

looks like vitangcol lost a lot of weight