The Games That Play Us: Timing

Greg Slaughter and the Eagles stood tall and took the
first Ateneo-La Salle match of the season.


In basketball, as it happens often in real life, timing is the difference between success and failure.

A step too late on defense means your man gets open.

A pass made too early in transition negates what could have been an easy lay-up.

A run made too late means the win is out of reach. Conversely, a run made at just the right time means victory is assured.

With the Green Archers taking a slim 1-point lead late in the third quarter, the Blue Eagles uncorked a 13-3 run that gave them enough of a cushion to play keep-away in the waning minutes of the first ever Ateneo-La Salle game in the new MOA Arena.

That decisive spurt started at the 1:20 mark of the third and ended with a Greg Slaughter basket at the 5:50 mark of the fourth. At that point, Ateneo’s lead stood at 9 points, its highest since peaking at 16 early in the second canto. La Salle would last threaten after Jed Manguera’s three with 2:23 left, but the Blue & White successfully hit majority of their freebies to keep Gang Green at bay and eventually take solo second behind league-leading FEU.

Timing was key in this huge Ateneo win. A 16-3 blast bridging the first and second stanzas gave the Loyola quintet a 26-10 lead, but that big bulge came a little too early as LA Revilla sparked a furious DLSU rally that trimmed the deficit to single digits at the break.

Early in the second half, it was Coach Gee Abanilla’s wards who made a run. The Taft five outscored their Katipunan counterparts, 19-9, in the first seven minutes of the third to take the lead for the first time. Alas, that proved to be too early as well. Kiefer Ravena sparked the game-clinching spurt shortly thereafter.

That timely run by Coach Norman Black’s boys put a ton of pressure on La Salle’s stars to come through in the clutch, and, quite frankly, they just weren’t able to do so. In one sequence, the Archers had a 4-on-1 advantage in transition, with Nico Salva the lone defender in the way. Salva backpedalled then timed his jump perfectly (again, TIMING) to thwart the La Salle fast break. Late in the game, Jeron Teng committed a mental error by consuming all 5 seconds in a crucial inbounds play. The timing of that rookie error virtually sealed the win for Ateneo.

Hoops pundits say that basketball is a game of runs and peaks, but it is also a game of timing. A run made too early can feed complacency while a run made too late can be inconsequential. A team that peaks too early might be fodder for upsets later on in a season, while a team that peaks at the critical stages is often poised to challenge for the title.

This defeat for La Salle comes at a bad time, especially since they’re coming off a loss to FEU last week, and they’ll face the streaking UST Growling Tigers next.

On the other hand, this win for Ateneo comes at a good time. They enter Week 4 riding high on a 2-game winning streak and the prospects of extending that look bright against UP and UE.

When they reach the last few playdates of Season 75, both Ateneo and La Salle might look back at this juncture as the stretch that made or broke their season because in basketball, when it comes to winning and losing, one cannot overlook timing.

Zags Gonzaga (L) and the rest of Ateneo had a tough
time containing DLSU's LA Revilla (R).

Nico Salva and Kiefer Ravena hit timely baskets to lift
the Eagles to their third win in four games.


AdMU 71 – Slaughter 20, Salva 16, Ravena 16, Chua 6, Tiongson 4, Elorde 3, Buenafe 3, Pessumal 2, Erram 0, Sumalinog 0, Gonzaga 0
DLSU 61 – Revilla 16, Teng 13, Torres N 11, Dela Paz 7, Manguera 6, Van Opstal 2, Andrada 2, Webb 2, Mendoza 1, Tampus 1, Paredes 0, Vosotros 0, Torres T 0 , Gotladera 0, Tallo 0
QS: 15-21, 36-41, 53-60, 77-71
Notable Performers:
Greg Slaughter (AdMU) – 20pts, 7rebs, 1ast, 1blk
LA Revilla (DLSU) – 16pts, 7asts, 5rebs, 1stl
Jeron Teng (DLSU) – 13pts, 8rebs, 2asts

*All images are by Philip Sison/
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