Ateneo: 2. La Salle: 0. My thoughts: 10

It’s the morning after La Salle’s heartbreaking (yes it is always heartbreaking to me. Always.) loss to Ateneo, 87-89 at Araneta last night. Obviously, I’m disappointed, but what the heck. What a game, huh? It was exciting all the way, from start to finish, and I promise you I’ve watched so many games for so many years it’s hard to get me as excited as I was when I watched it last night.

Here are some thoughts:

  1. That boy Salamat (15 pts) is fantastic. He is a true point guard and even acts and runs like it, with quick feet doing most of the motion and his torso up and erect, allowing his head to look steadily at what’s happening at the rest of the court. With good training from the Reyes brothers he can be a very effective player in the future.
  2. The Escueta boy (16 pts) is another revelation. One of those stick thin shooting guard types that’s deadly with the 3. He gives Chris Tiu much needed reprieve from scoring chores and reminds me of a smaller Jason Terry.
  3. Speaking of Chris Tiu (19 pts), this guy blossomed early and is still the epitome of cool confidence. What a stroke. He’s got that down pat, but I still think he’s too short so he’s got to prepare himself for the life of a point guard if he’s gonna turn pro. If that’s the case, he’d be behind pure PGs like Salamat or UST’s Cuan, so he might be in the mold of another Ren-Ren, which is unfortunate because the Philippines needs taller shooters. We’ll see what happens there.
  4. Rico Maierhofer (24 pts) has turned out to be DLSU’s main man, but I always thought it would’ve been Pocholo Villanueva (18 pts), an old school type slasher – or maybe it’ll be his year next year? In any case, Maierhofer is unstoppable, but still a little too raw and undisciplined. He needs to learn a bit more about life in the post and bulk up as well. In other words, try and find other ways to be more effective other than relying on his jumping ability and scrappiness. His athleticism is exciting to watch and results in sensational plays, but like all young athletes, gravity will eventually set in and he’ll need to slow his game down. He’ll need to develop a mid – range ‘money’ shot that doesn’t require so much effort. Think Tim Duncan’s bankshot, Kareem’s hook or Karl Malone’s 20 foot J from the either wing. If he develops a reliable shot he wouldn’t have to get beat up too much and reserve the spectacular stuff for later.

  1. What happened to Casio? G-shock is my man, but he shouldn’t beat himself up too much about not showing up last night. It’s obvious he was the missing factor here, but he’s a vet and he’ll bounce back.
  2. I’ve never had all that much respect for TY Tang, and I think I like him even less now as a scoring option. He was effective, however, when he played as a pure PG and taking shots only when he’s all alone, and so maybe he should just stick to that?
  3. There was a scuffle sometime involving Brian Ilad and Zion Laterre, with the announcers and most of the press focusing on Ilad’s action and Zion’s ‘kick’. What they missed was Zion’s initial pounding of Ilad’s head when he was scrapping for the ball, when he used his chest to bang Ilad’s head to the ground – an old, old, old, old trick I see (by Bruce Bowen in particular) all the time! Ilad was hurt so he reacted, and Zion kicked to get out of there, knowing everyone would see only what Brian did so he was justified. This explains why Brian was holding on to his head. To everyone who thought Ilad started it all, come on guys, wisen up! I’m not saying only Zion does it either – MOST players in all the league do this all the time, this is soooo nothing new.
  4. Claiford Arao (18 pts) seems like a mid range jumpshooter rather than a post banger, which is unfortunate because given his height and heft, he’d probably dominate College ball. But as with all things, you take what’s given you, so if shooting is his thing then hey, that’s fine as long as he can do it reliably, and apparently he can.
  5. Once again I’ve never seen Norman Black, in all my years watching the PBA, react as much as he does when he’s coaching the Eagles. Often he is livid with anger, waving his arms around and screaming like the young man he isn’t. I’ve said this before but I still can’t get over it. Even when he was playing he was never like that, and I’ve gotta say I really love it. Franz Pumaren, on the other hand, is all business, giving instructions and always looking like he knows what he’s doing. Black though looks like he’s on the verge of collapse, usually outworking and out-frenzying the wildest Ateneo fan (which there aren’t many of) even the slightest of questionable calls. I think it’s just terrific.
  6. 15,000 people in attendance is amazing no matter how you look at it. It’s hard to think of a comparably important sporting event in the Philippines nowadays, and I couldn’t help but think that we needed this. We need this as a stress reliever. We need this as a way to escape the daily grind. We need this to stir up commerce and give our economy a push. We need this – hell just because it’s fun we can experience together as either a family or a group of friends. 15,000 people all experiencing the same euphoria and excitement is a special, unique and rare thing.

And as an extension to number 10, I again publish my theory on what the DLSU – ADMU winning formula is, and that is the Alumni. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again. The key to such a terrific rivalry is only partially due to just good basketball. It’s got a lot to do with how well the terrific UAAP is run too, but the biggest factor is still: the Alumni.

I was never part of Gangreen (the fanatical DLSU UAAP fans. Sorry but I couldn’t find an internet reference to link to), but I understand fully what their purpose is. Their job is to be the ‘6th man’, for all it’s worth, to scream and shout and more importantly, to show up during games and to support the hell out of their teams, and ADMU obviously has an equivalent as well.

It goes far beyond just face paint, smart cheers and occasional hooliganism. It’s real commitment and love. And if you think about it, this is really what the UAAP, NCAA and even the PBA is all about. Without such near fanatical support for teams, there really is no reason why a team should exist in the first place. Fans are ordinary people who really have no obligation to come and watch them, but do so anyway just because they want to support their teams. In response, teams play way beyond what they’re usually capable of, adding a whole new dimension to their competitiveness. The result? Exciting games. End to end pressure from start to finish, just like the game last night.

I mention this in the light of two things: to explain to those who do not understand what the big deal is all about, and secondly, to encourage other people to support their own. It heartens me whenever I see other teams and their respective fans start making a ruckus of their own, such as the redoubtable UST team and its Alumni, and in the NCAA, the PCU Dolphins (ok ok they’re suspended, but that’s beside the point). On the other hand, there is nothing sadder than watching a team with no fans try and play against a better supported teams, and because this is College ball with mostly emotional kids who need lots of motivation playing, they usually get pummeled and sent home with their heads bowed.

So to all the closet fans out there, watch a game and start supporting your own, and before you know it, you too will understand what it is to both have your heart broken or feel like you’re in heaven depending on whether how your team performs. It’s an amazing feeling that just keeps getting better each year.

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