The Games That Play Us: Big Boys and Big Games

Ryan Buenafe came to play as Ateneo drubbed
La Salle for the second time this season.
(image by Philip Sison/


Ryan Buenafe’s brown-dyed do was one of the most eye-catching things in a game watched by celebrities, scions, and some of the biggest names in Manila’s social landscape. It wasn’t his do, however, that made the most impact.

It was his game.

Prior to this all-important match-up between two streaking squads, Buenafe was norming just 4.6 points per game and hitting his threes at a paltry 5.6% clip. That’s BAD for any guy, but more so for someone who chucks it from rainbow country twice a game. By all indications, this was not the Ryan Buenafe who sank the FEU Tamaraws in the final game of the Season 73 Finals. This was a shell. No, check that. This was a shell of the shell. This was the guy whom Jeron Teng outplayed in the Filoil summer league. This was the guy so easily frustrated so many times this season. This was the guy booted out of Ateneo’s last game.

It was a good thing, then, that it was a DIFFERENT Ryan Buenafe who showed up.

Same big, rotund physique. Same big ego (come on, admit it). Same big, sadistic smirk. But, thankfully, this guy packed the same big game all Loyolans know and love.

This ANYONE has to admit – when Ryan Buenafe wills it, he can still take over a game like crazy.

He did it here, especially in the quarters that the Eagles won – the first and third. Ateneo outscored De La Salle by a combined 21 points in those periods, with Buenafe accounting for 16 of the Blues’ combined total from both frames. That’s him scoring A THIRD of the Eagles’ points. The big boy still has a big game.

He also has big talk. This was easily seen after each made basket in the face of super rookie Jeron Teng. Buenafe probably made it his personal mission to try and shut down the spunky newbie from Taft, and there were several moments in this one where the former Staglet probably whispered, “Marami ka pang kakaining bigas.”

And, yes, Teng produced ANOTHER big output – 22 points including two triples while shooting 8-of-12 from the stripe – but he didn’t exactly have it easy. Jeron shot 6-of-21 from the floor in the face of Ateneo’s tenacious D, which most of the time meant Ryan Buenafe’s hand on his face, or Ryan Buenafe’s face on his face.

Still, despite what the final score might suggest, this wasn’t a walk in the park for the Katipunan five. La Salle owned them in the second period, and refused to let the Eagles break the game wide open in the fourth. They stuck to the Eagles, but just failed to make the big plays down the stretch. Most exemplary amongst the Greenies was another former Staglet – Almond Vosotros. Vosotros, who has been red-hot of late, continued his perimeter barrage, scattering four treys en route to 20 markers. Sure, many a La Sallian probably missed the steady and heady playmaking of LA Revilla, but they sure cheered every time Vosotros found the bottom of the net. This I can say about the Taft squad, they’ll be fine even without Revilla. They just have too many weapons.

Ditto with the Blue crew, of course. Buenafe wasn’t the only one puncturing the emerald defenders. Kiefer Ravena and Juami Tiongson continued their solid backcourt play with a combined 28 points, 10 boards, and 7 dimes, while just turning the ball over ONCE. Nico Salva, who was ice cold early on, made the timely hits that kept the Archers at bay in the final 10 minutes. The former Red Cub and LSGH Greenie, ended up with a dozen markers. His frontline partner, Greg Slaughter, didn’t score much (just 4 points), but he more than made up for it with 11 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists. His solid undergoal play made it easy to forget JP Erram’s absence.

This was a key game for both teams, and the result will surely have deep implications heading into the final two weeks or so of the elimination round. La Salle needed this win to gain significant ground over NU, but now they find themselves in a dogfight. Only UP remains a “light” assignment, with NU, FEU, and Adamson still waiting in the wings. Needless to say, the Archers need to win AT LEAST two more games for a good shot at the Final Four.

In contrast, Ateneo, armed with 9 victories, is virtually assured of yet another stint in the playoffs. Given how tight the win-loss records are spaced, one more win should formalize a twice-to-beat advantage for the five-peat seekers. They have a golden opportunity to do that against UE on Thursday, while a tough three-game sked ends their elims campaign (Adamson, NU, and then UST).

Extremely important matches are up ahead, but, hey, that’s what Ateneo’s Ryan Buenafe wants anyway. Throw away those stats and records because when it comes to the big games, this big boy comes to play.

Justin Chua played big in the absence of resident
blue collar worker JP Erram.
(image by Philip Sison/

Kiefer Ravena continued to sizzle for
the Blue Eagles, who are not lonely at the top.
(image by Philip Sison/

Jeron Teng and Almond Vosotros provided a bulk of
the scoring for De La Salle.
(image by Leslie Sy/

Thomas Torres and the Archers tumble to their
fourth loss and a tie for fourth place with NU.
(image by Leslie Sy/

The scores:

AdMU 77 – Buenafe 24, Ravena 18, Salva 12, Tiongson 10, Slaughter 4, chua 4, Sumalinog 3, Gonzaga 2, Golla 0, Elorde 0
DLSU 67 – Teng 22, Vosotros 20, Van Opstal 8, Tampus 8, Torres N 4, Manguera 3, Mendoza 2, Andrada 0, Paredes 0, Torres T 0, Tallo 0, Webb 0
QS: 26-10, 35-29, 57-46, 77-67
Key Performances:
Ryan Buenafe (AdMU) – 24pts, 8rebs, 3 treys
Kiefer Ravena (AdMU) – 18pts, 7rebs, 4asts
Almond Vosotros (DLSU) – 20pts, 7rebs, 4 treys, 3asts

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