Growing Their Wings: Eaglets Continue Roller-Coaster Ride

Jerie Pingoy continued his mastery of the
Ateneo Blue Eaglets in round two.
(image by Warner David) 

The Ateneo de Manila High School Blue Eaglets continue their rocky roller-coaster ride through Season 75. They lost to the league-leading FEU-FERN Baby Tamaraws this past Thursday, but bounced back by narrowly defeating the Junior Maroons of UPIS today.

These results place the Eaglets at fourth position in the standings with a 5-win, 5-loss record. They need to sweep their final four assignments to secure a Final Four berth. Their remaining opponents are UE (Sept. 12), De La Salle-Zobel (Sept. 16), Adamson (Sept. 19), and UST (Sept. 23). All their remaining games will be played at the Filoil Arena in San Juan. The most important games are the ones against Zobel and UST, since both teams are still pushing for the Final Four, too.


When the Baby Tamaraws unleashed a crippling 26-10 blast bridging the third and fourth quarters to break this game open, it looked like the Eaglets were all but ready to fold.

What happened after, however, was far from that. The troika of Anton Asistio, Thirdy Ravena, and Mike Nieto unloaded a 17-4 run that pushed the Katipunan quintet just 3 points behind the wards of Coach Michael Oliver.

Ateneo didn’t want to lose a second straight game. The Eaglets didn’t want to lose both elims matches to the team that ousted them in last season’s Final Four. The Blues knew they had it in them to get over the hump.

Again, though, they fell short.

FEU’s Korean import, Woo You, hit a three to peg the lead back at 6 points before four free throws by leading MVP candidate Jerie Pingoy gave the Baby  Tams enough cushion to emerge victorious in the end.

Asistio was brilliant in this game, leading all scorers with 29 markers. He had three triples and also stole the ball thrice. He was ably supported by Thirdy Ravena, who recorded a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Asistio might be a nice pick-up next year for any team in the Seniors division in need of a pure shooter. He is a little undersized for his natural shooting guard position, but he might be converted to a PG like what happened to Jai Reyes when he started college ball in 2005. Ravena, meanwhile, has shown to have even more athleticism than his older brother. He’s also a little taller and seems to have a wider wingspan. It appears he still needs to work on his instincts and basketball IQ (then again, can anyone really “train” for that?), but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know he has great upside.

By far the most “seniors-ready” player in this game, however, was Pingoy. The RP U18 standout is a man among boys. This despite him being one of the smallest guys on the court. His speed, activity, athleticism, and aggressiveness all combine to form one hell of an explosive pint-sized package.

Watch out for him wherever he plays next season.

Matthew Nieto is set to be the next great
playmaker for the Eaglets.
(image by Warner David)

Aaron Black tries an undergoal stab
against the Baby Tams.
(image by Warner David)


FEU-FERN 73 – Pingoy 16, Domingo Jj 13, Escoto 9, You 5, Domingo R 5, Aguilon 5, Hassan 4, Delfinado 4, Palacio 3, Domingo Js 3, Lumba 2, Palana 2, Lee Yu 2, Magbuhos 0, Belgica 0
AHS 70 – Asistio 29, Ravena 18, Nieto Mi 8, Gamboa 6, Black 5, Nieto Ma 2, Escaler 2, Vitangcol 0, Vinasoy 0, Puno 0, Mendoza 0, Capacio 0
QS: 11-11, 32-31, 57-43, 73-70
Notable Performers:
Jerie Pingoy (FEU-FERN) – 16pts, 6asts, 5rebs, 2blks
Anton Asistio (AHS) – 29pts, 3 treys, 3stls, 2rebs, 1ast
Thirdy Ravena (AHS) – 18pts, 13rebs, 4asts


The final spread was much closer than expected, but the Eaglets will take this win. In fact, considering how up-and-down things have been, the Eaglets will take any win at this point.

Once again, Anton Asistio came to the fore. The shooting guard playing his last year for the Eaglets struggled with his stroke, but still managed to lead the Blues in scoring with 16 points. Junior forward Thirdy Ravena and sophomore center Mike Nieto, meanwhile, took care of patrolling the paint. The dynamic frontline duo paired up for 25 points and 25 rebounds. They did battle with UPIS’s own superb big man, Raymart Sablan, who finished with 17 markers and 13 boards.

Ateneo actually trailed for much of the game, but they managed to pull off the big plays down the stretch to avert disaster. Had they lost this match, the Eaglets would’ve been mired in a 4-win, 6-loss ditch. It would’ve been close to impossible to climb from that and emerge with a Final Four slot.

This win, therefore, raises their hopes of bagging a postseason ticket, though they’ll need to sweep their last four games to really secure their place in the Final Four.

Mike Nieto, despite ailing from a variety of injuries, continues to play really well for Coach Joe Silva. His game is reminiscent of Bacon Austria’s own style when he was still in high school. Bacon wasn’t the tallest big man, but his burly physique and his nose for the ball made him a formidable foe despite the size disadvantage. Nieto is built in almost the same mold as Bacon, and he’s just as gritty when it comes to tussling in the trenches. If he continues to play with unmatched resiliency, then the Eaglets’ foes better watch out.

One BIG Fight!

Anton Asistio continues to be the most prolific scorer
for the Eaglets.
(image by Erwin Cabbab/
The Eaglets still have a shot at the Final Four, but
they'll need to stay strong for their next four games.
(image by Erwin Cabbab/

Mike Nieto might be undersized at the five,
but his grit more than makes up for it.
(image by Erwin Cabbab/


AHS 65 – Asistio 16, Nieto Mi 14, Ravena 11, Nieto Ma 7, Puno 5, Black 5, Gamboa 4, Mendoza 2, Escaler 1, Vitangcol 0, Vinasoy 0, Capacio 0
UPIS 63 – Sablan 17, General 11, Dario 11, Pajarillaga 8, Lina 8, Quejada 6, Ancheta 2, Nacpil 0, Lopez 0, Gregorio 0
QS: 16-16, 27-30, 43-44, 65-63
Notable Performers:
Mike Nieto (AHS) – 14pts, 12rebs, 1blk
Thirdy Ravena (AHS) – 11pts, 13rebs, 3asts, 1stl
Raymart Sablan (UPIS) – 17pts, 13rebs, 2asts, 1blk

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