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UAAP- Ateneo/La Salle 4- A Personal Affair.

The tension’s mounting. It’s the talk of the town. Even our friends in New York have chosen to write about the rivalry because it’s quite remarkable how it’s enthralled an entire nation of basketball-loving men, women, and children.

The Ateneo/La Salle tiff this afternoon, 3pm, Philippine time, is one which should go down in the annals of Philippine College Baskeball history as a classic, regardless of what happens.

If what actually happens at the Araneta Coliseum doesn’t live up to the hype, then maybe the drama leading up to this encounter might work towards adequately satiating the longing of basketball pundits and common folk alike for one heck of a good show.

I was fortunate enough to have gotten tickets to today’s game, but unfortunately, fate has dictated that I sit this one out. Work. Talk about a downer.

In any event, I will be watching from wherever I end up- my office cubicle or otherwise. My previous post posited a La Salle victory in this best of 2 series, and that prediction is one I will stick with. The basketball analyst in me has coaxed me to do so. Not since the days of Yeo, Cardona, Alvarez, Villanueva (Enrico), Tenorio, and Cortez (Mike) have I felt this involved in a UAAP game. That speaks volumes considering that last year, I was at the UAAP Finals, a series which saw Ateneo fall dramatically at the hands of Cinderella-story team UST.

I’m going to be getting my JC Intal jersey soon too. I’ve been profusely bleeding blue, and, incidentally, microfibre material, these days. Very much so.

Let’s all enjoy today’s ballgame. Let’s all pray that no one resorts to fisticuffs, for any reason.

One Big Fight! Animo La Salle!

Post Script:

-If I’m the UE Red Warriors, I ought to feel just a little bit wary. Whoever emerges from this set of games as the 2nd UAAP finalist may come out battered and bruised, but will also rise from out of the ashes more primed for the kill than ever. The importance of the 14-0 record, technically, is rendered moot once the final round begins.

-Today could be the final games for Ateneans Chris Tiu, Ford Arao, and Zion Laterre. Cheers to you guys for all blood, sweat, and tears you’ve put into doing Ateneo proud. 🙂

-Incidentally, La Salle spitfire JV Casio could also be staring his final 2 games as a UAAP cager square in the face. Cheers to you, JV, for all of your spectacular exploits over your 5 years as a Green Archer.

-Will Norman Black use any gambits today? Bacon Austria? Chris Sumalinog? Perhaps Eman Monfort for extended minutes? Of the three players mentioned, Monfort is the man who might actually get time. The “Pocket Rocket” In 10 minutes versus National University last September 15, 2007, Eman scored 14 points on 5-6 shooting from the field, inclusive of 4 out of 5 makes from behind the arc. He had a similar performance against the University of the Philippines on September 6, 2007, playing 15 minutes, scoring 10 points, and netting 2 out of 3 shots from rainbow country. He could very well signify be the galvanizer the Eagles might need, should Eric Salamat and Jai Reyes be out of sorts, or, should Kirk Long’s jump shot continue to be off. Expect Yuri Escueta to get a lot of court time in this one. After all, he seems to be the only “pass first” little man on the Ateneo roster this year.

-What about La Salle’s gambit? Perhaps the Archers could turn to Peejay Barua, who can rebound and shoot the J. Kish Co could help out in terms of rebounding and shotblocking, but might end up getting muscled around by Ateneo bigs like Nkemakolam and Arao. Shooting guard Bader Malabes is a realistic option. He possesses enough dribbling savvy, strength, and jump shooting accuracy to command defense in Franz Pumaren’s motion oriented offensive sets. The less standstill you are in a Pumaren offensive sequence, the better. James Mangahas is another focal point that the Eagles might not see coming. This kid’s easily a 14 and 7 guy if given the time and if focused, so, Ateneo’s more “one-dimensional” big men have to keep their wits about them.

-Zion Laterre has to harrass Rico Maierhoffer if ADMU plans on playing beyond today. Laterre is quick enough, and strong enough, to match wits with the La Salle star. If Maierhoffer is taken out of the equation on box outs, then that makes things easier for guys like Baclao, Arao, and Al Hussaini to crash the boards against smaller guys like Co, Ferdinand, and even Ilad (assuming he plays). Additionally, Kirk Long and Eric Salamat have to keep in step with JVee Casio and have a hand in his face every time down the floor. JVee is masterful at exploiting seams in defenses, and should the Ateneo little men not be able to keep up with the MVP candidate, the Ateneo bigs, who are important in the running of their offensive sets rooted in pick and rolls and post ups, will go into foul trouble.

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