The Games That Play Us: Another Day in Paradise

Nico Salva was rock-solid as Ateneo booked its
first win in Season 75.


For one full half, the Adamson Soaring Falcons seemed like they hardly missed a beat from their monumental triumph over the Blue Eagles in Season 74. The San Marcelino quintet trailed by just 4 points as the frontline duo of Rodney Brondial and Eric Camson pumped in combined numbers of 19 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks after the first 20 minutes of play.

Ateneo had the halftime lead, but it was apparent that some apprehensions hung in the MOA Arena air as the Loyola offense periodically sputtered after a searing 10-2 spurt that opened the game. Could the Eagles be in for another too-close-for-comfort grinder with the Falcons?

As Brondial, Camson, and Alex Nuyles continued to carve up the Ateneo defense in the third canto, it seemed like everyone would be treated to another battle of attrition. That’s when the Katipunan five, led by Greg Slaughter, Nico Salva, and Oping Sumalinog, unleashed a 14-4 run that put a bit more separation between the five-peat seeking Eagles and their erstwhile nemesis.

Never the quitters, however, coach Leo Austria’s wards kept gnawing at Ateneo, with Ryan Monteclaro’s triple cutting the lead to just seven, 55-48, to open the scoring in the final frame.

And that’s when the Blue & White flexed their championship muscle. Seven different Ateneans scored in a blistering 18-4 blast that all but sealed win #1 of the their Glori5 campaign. Slaughter predictably led the way with 17 points, 10 boards, and 4 blocks, while frontcourt partner Salva added 14 markers and 6 caroms. Most impressive, however, were the playmaking of Juami Tiongson, Kiefer Ravena, transferee Nico Elorde, and returnee Ryan Buenafe. None of those players scored in double-figures, but they did combine for 13 of Ateneo’s 20 assists. In fact, that combined number for the four Eagles is more than the whole Adamson team’s assists total!

Another impressive thing? Both of Ateneo’s main point guards, Tiongson and Elorde, committed ZERO turnovers in 40 minutes of play. Their efficient quarterbacking complemented the well-rounded excellence of the Eagles. Aside from assists, Ateneo had more steals and blocks than Adamson. They also shot better from both the floor (44% to 31%) and the line (73% to 44%).

Their lumbering mid-game notwithstanding, this performance augurs well for coach Norman Black’s boys. I don’t think they’ll blow anybody out the way NU thrashed UE, but I think they’ll be clear favorites in most games. The Eagles have a lot of things going for them, like size (especially on the defensive end), the aforementioned playmaking, and constant penetration, which helped them net 22 free throw attempts in this match. One thing they’ll have to continue working on, though, is outside shooting, as they converted just one out of seven tries from beyond the arc. They’ll need to rediscover their sniping if they want to smoothen their ride towards the Final Four.

For Adamson, coach Austria will really have to find a way to utilize more of his roster. Nuyles, Camson, and Brondial all played at least 31 minutes, which is good for their production, but bad for their stamina. The Falcons just cannot go on riding these three guys and hope a Final Four slot is still within reach – not with the depth of the other teams in this league.

In the end, Adamson gave Ateneo quite a scare up until the middle of the third period when the Eagles started to hum. What seemed like a tense encounter that had the makings of a cardiac finish instead turned to be just another day in paradise for the defending champions.

Greg Slaughter's commanding presence required
a double-team from Adamson's frontline.
Eric Camson tried his best to will the Falcons to win, but, alas,
his efforts were in vain.
The Blue & White ended their first game with a big W.
Thirteen more to go.
(image by Juan Benjamin Janeo/

ADMU 73 – Slaughter 17, Salva 14, Ravena 9, Sumalinog 6, Buenafe 6, Tiongson 5, Erram 5, Chua 4, Gonzaga 3, Golla 2, Elorde 2, Porter 0, Pessumal 0, Lim 0, Capacio 0
ADU 57 – Brondial 13, Nuyles 12, Camson 10, Cabrera 10, Cruz 4, Monteclaro 3, Trollano 2, Etrone 2, Cabigas 1, Julkipli 0, Agustin 0, Abrigo 0
QS: 15-16, 32-28, 55-45, 73-57
Notable Performers:
Greg Slaughter (ADMU) – 17pts, 10rebs, 4blks
Rodney Brondial (ADU) – 13pts, 10rebs, 1stl, 1blk
Juami Tiongson (ADMU) – 5pts, 7asts, 5rebs, 2stls

*“Another Day in Paradise” is a hit song by Phil Collins.
**Unless otherwise specified, all images are from

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