The Games That Play Us: The Hump

Greg Slaughter stood tall in the second half as
Ateneo solidified its hold on first place.


Emmanuel Mbe picked a good day for one of his best outings in Season 75. The NU Bulldogs needed a win to put some distance between them and their Final Four pursuer, DLSU.

The thing is, for one whole half, it looked like the Bulldogs might actually pull it off and beat Ateneo in a UAAP game in the Ray Parks era. With Mbe quickly going to town around the basket, the NU Bulldogs looked every bit the champions of the Filoil Summer League. They outrebounded the taller Eagles, and their aggressiveness was rewarded with more than triple the free throw attempts of the Ateneans by the time the cheering squads came out.

This might just be the day Coach Eric Altamirano’s canines get over the hump and put a foot (or paw?) past the Final Four door.

Too bad the third quarter happened.

Ateneo outscored NU, 25-12, in the third period. The Eagles limited the Bulldogs’ rebounding and showcased their playmaking prowess with 8 assists, including all of Kiefer Ravena’s 5 dimes. The biggest difference-maker, however, was defense. Yes, Coach Norman Black’s calling card came to the fore again as the Katipunan quintet put the clamps on the bayside boys of NU. The Bulldogs’ FG% dropped to just under 29% in this period, with Mbe producing just 2 points. Ateneo also forced NU to commit 8 turnovers, which the Eagles promptly converted to 10 turnover points. With less than 3 minutes to go in the quarter, the Royal Blues had already built the game’s first double-digit difference, 50-40.

Oops. Instead of getting over the hump, it seems like the Bulldogs got buried beneath it.

Things continued to get worse for Coach Altamirano’s wards in the final frame as Nico Salva and Greg Slaughter paired up to erect Ateneo’s biggest lead, 68-50, with under 4 minutes left in the game. At that juncture, Parks had recorded a measly 5 points, and, though he would score 6 straight to make the final score a bit more respectable, it was clear he was out of sorts.

Overall, Parks shot just 5-of-17 from the field. He wasn’t too aggressive, as he shot just one free throw. He did have 8 boards and 2 dimes, but his 5 turnovers further gave credence to the notion that he was effectively shut down in this encounter.

NU clearly needs to go back to the drawing board. They should bounce back nicely against the hapless Fighting Maroons on Sunday before their much ballyhooed do-over against FEU next weekend. They could’ve seized this chance to be a full game ahead of the Archers, but, instead, they sink back into a tie for fourth. (BTW, DLSU fans may mail their TY letters to the Loyola Heights Campus)

The Blue Eagles, meanwhile, continue to have the inside track to a twice-to-beat edge. The only conceivable scenario that will have Ateneo bumped down to #3 is if they get blown out by UST, and if FEU and the Tigers win all their remaining matches.

*Strangely enough, the Eagles were awarded just two free throws for the whole game. I cannot recall any game in recent UAAP history where the usually aggressive Ateneans were limited to that low a number of charity shots. Even stranger is the fact that though NU did shoot 15 free throws, Parks accounted for just one of those, as was already mentioned in the main text. Indeed, things are shaping up to be VERY VERY interesting.

Emmanuel Mbe's quick start couldn't lift
the Bulldogs over the Eagles.
(image from University Basketball League)
Ateneo icon Fr. Adolfo Dacanay, SJ sports the jersey
of his favorite Blue Eagle, and it's NOT Bacon Austria. 
Oping Sumalinog stepped up for ateneo
 in the absence of JP Erram.
The scores:

AdMU 70 – Slaughter 22, Salva 14, Ravena 14, Tiongson 6, Elorde 5, Buenafe 3, Sumalinog 2, Golla 2, Chua 2, Pessumal 0, Gonzaga 0
NU 56 – Mbe 19, Javillonar 15, Parks 11, De Guzman 5, Rosario 2, Khobuntin 2, Alolino 2, Villamor 0, Roño 0, Betayene 0
QS: 16-17, 31-33, 56-45, 70-56
Key Performances:
Greg Slaughter (AdMU) – 22pts, 7rebs, 3blks, 2asts
Kiefer Ravena (AdMU) – 14pts, 5asts, 3rebs, 1stl, 1blk
Emmanuel Mbe (NU) – 19pts, 14rebs, 2stls

Unless otherwise specified, all images are by Philip Sison/
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