The Games that Play Us: Nice Try, Try Harder

Justin Chua had another terrific outing, helping
Ateneo grab its 12th win in as many games.
(image by Philip Sison/

AdMU Blue Eagles over the UP Fighting Maroons, 73-58

The Ateneo Blue Eagles gifted team captain Kirk Long with a maroon-wrapped win on his last birthday in Blue & White.

But, despite what the score might suggest, it wasn’t exactly the easiest of wins.

The Fighting Maroons, in fact, held the lead on a couple of occasions – throughout most of the first quarter, and finally after Mike Silungan swished a trey off a broken play that gave UP a 28-22 advantage in the 2nd stanza.

It was then when the Eagles probably thought that their return-to-bleach-blonde leader, who has been a significant contributor in each of the past 3 title runs, deserved better.

Capt. Kirk got his birthday wish after Ateneo
finished off the resilient Maroons.
(image by Philip Sison/
So they tightened their defense, slowly achieved some separation, and eventually cruised to the 15-point endgame spread.

Greg Slaughter led the way with 18 points, though only a third of his output came from field goals. The Loyola giant was hacked and harmed on the way to 17 charity attempts, on 12 of which he made good. Despite all the slapping and fouling, however, big Greg still collared 18 rebounds and blocked 1 shot, establishing his presence where it mattered.

Nico Salva had another “salvific” outing, filling up the stat sheet with 16 markers, 6 boards, 3 dimes, 2 rejections and 1 swipe. His frontcourt batchmate, Justin Chua, also accounted for himself well as he ended up with the contest’s only other double-double – 11 points and 10 rebounds on top of 2 blocks in just 18 minutes of burn time.

Are things looking good for Ateneo? Pretty obvious don’t you think?

That’s not to say that things are flawless, though. Not by a longshot.

Greg Slaughter & Kiefer Ravena are on their way to
a possible sweep of the Season 74 elimination round.
(image by Philip Sison/
I don’t want to say it’s complacency. Perhaps it’s just good old sloppy play (they’re still human, after all), but the Eagles haven’t exactly been the quickest-starting team in the land based on their recent encounters. It’s like they’re running on diesel – they start slow, but when things start to burn, they really go off.

Is that a good thing? Given the prospect of Ateneo sweeping the eliminations (I didn’t jinx it, okay? I wrote “prospect!”), slow starts and token sloppy execution might be the Eagles’ untimely undoing.

The Blues almost paid for all-around lackadaisical play against the Warriors last week, and it took them a great finishing kick to dispatch of the Maroons here, but against the likes of Adamson (next week), FEU (maybe in the postseason?), and NU (up next!), things might not pan out as well.

And IF Ateneo does manage a sweep, then that means AT LEAST a 7-day lay-off because of the complex step-ladder format. And IF a couple of teams manage some ties for certain spots (like Adamson & FEU for 2nd, or UST, DLSU & NU for 4th), then the break from action could be longer than expected, or desired.

Eagles, after all, don’t do their damage perched on branches or cliffs. They fly, they swoop, they kill. They do their worst amid the swirling fortunes of the winds.

But all that thinking might be for naught unless Ateneo does manage to defeat the dangerous Bulldogs tomorrow and the Soaring Falcons next week. In the meantime, UP can opt for retribution against La Salle on Sunday before tangling with fellow basement occupant UE next weekend. The Maroons, however, can rest in the thought that they had a good try in this game against Ateneo. Next time, they should just try a little harder.

One BIG Fight!

AdMU 73 – Slaughter 18, Salva 16, Chua 11, Ravena 7, Long 5, Tiongson 5, Austria 4, Gonzaga 3, Monfort 2, Erram 2, Capacio 0, Pessumal 0, Sumalinog 0
UP 58 – Silungan 16, Juruena 12, Maniego 7, Romero 6, Gamboa 4, Montecastro 4, Mbah 3, Gomez 2, Wierzba 2, Gingerich 1, Manuel 1, Pascual 0
QS: 15-14, 32-28, 52-45, 73-58

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