The Games that Play Us: Poignant Partings

The Green Archers bid goodbye to their captain. Too bad
it had to happen with a loss.
(image by Adi Bontuyan/

FEU Tamaraws over the DLSU Green Archers, 66-57

When Simon Atkins entered the league in 2007, he was coming off the year when DLSU was suspended. He was a proven player in the UAAP juniors ranks, helping win for Zobel its first UAAP basketball crown. He was wooed by teams from different parts of the color wheel, but, as opposed to a couple of other teammates who chose to shift allegiances, he ultimately chose to stick it out with the Taft unit despite enduring the “suspension season.”

It seemed all worth it when La Salle, led by JV Casio and Rico Maierhofer, won the 2007 crown in redemptive fashion. Vindication for La Salle. Exaltation for Simon. It only strengthened his resolve to stay emerald, and seemed to prove his choice was the right one.

But after suffering through the last 3 seasons seeing his alma mater’s arch-rivals take home the biggest bacon every single time, and having beaten Ateneo only once in the past 3 UAAP years, Atkins was hungry to end his collegiate playing days in grand fashion.

Simon Atkins played well in his final game in
Green & White.
(image by Adi Bontuyan/
He started a champion and he wanted to bid farewell a champion.

Unfortunately, Fate had other plans. Fate had NU beat the Archers last Thursday to formally oust Gang Green from the Final Four, and Fate had FEU pummel La Salle even further as Atkins saw his beloved team tumble down to sixth place overall.

Maybe this was life’s way of teaching him that he couldn’t get all that he wanted. And though he leaves without any regrets and with his head held high, perhaps somewhere inside him he is pestered by all the struggles and disappointments of the past few La Salle campaigns.

Maui Villanueva also played out
his last UAAP match.
(image by Adi Bontuyan/
This final loss to the Tamaraws doesn’t just end DLSU’s season. It may well be the end of an era. In many ways, this final game, again, showcased the ills plaguing the program that once lorded it over the UAAP field. The Archers shot poorly from the line (43%), were grossly outrebounded despite their size advantage (50-34), and were outplayed defensively (4 FEU steals to just 1 for DLSU, and 6 FEU blocks to just 3 for DLSU). Of their much ballyhooed big men, only Arnold Van Opstal and Jovet Mendza bothered to show up. Papot Paredes, Maui Villanueva, and Norbert Torres all combined for 2 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block. And what about the fairy tale comeback of one LA Revilla? He ended with a whimper, finishing with just 2 points.

In contrast, FEU was brilliant, especially in the 2nd half. Their 3 Rs hit their mark, as RR Garcia, Aldrech Ramos, and Terrence Romeo finished with 19, 18 and 17 points respectively. Mark Bringas and Russel Escoto were solid on the boards, and the Green & Gold also shot well from the line. It was a good way to wind up the elims and gather momentum towards a Final Four clash with the Soaring Falcons.

Aldrech Ramos and the Tamaraws have gathered momentum
on the way to a critical clash with the Falcons.
(image by Jerome Ascano/NPPA Images)
Ah momentum. It seems the only momentum La Salle has right now is momentum going down. They’re sinking, and somebody has to right the ship. Does it mean a change in players? In coaching? Will they land Tim Cone? How about coveted HS standout Jeron Teng? The Archers will have their offseason work cut out for them.

As for Atkins, he trots to the sunset, bloody but unbowed, clutching his bow and quiver, as the crowd greets him and his cohort, “Happy 100 years.”

FEU 66 – Garcia 19, Ramos 18, Romeo 17, Escoto 5, Cruz 4, Bringas 2, Pogoy 1, Exciminiano 0, Knuttel 0, Tolomia 0
DLSU 57 – Atkins 16, Van Opstal 11, Webb 11, Mendoza 11, Paredes 2, Vosotros 2, Revilla 2, Marata 2, Villanueva 0, dela Paz 0, Torres 0, Tampus 0
QS: 14-11, 27-33, 48-47, 66-57

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