UAAP: High five for Ateneo?-A A +A
Thursday, October 11, 2012
THE Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles will be the second team to win five straight titles in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament, that is, if they overcome this season’s comeback kids University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers in Game 2 of the best-of-three finals Thursday.
University of the East accomplished the feat in 1969 but the Red Warriors won two more titles after that, making them the only squad to hold the longest reign in the country’s premier collegiate league.
Since the introduction of the Final Four format in 1994, 14 out of 18 Game 1 winners like Ateneo went on to bag the crown. The championship phase, meanwhile, went the distance eight times during the stretch.
Just like in 2006, when Ateneo won by a hairline in Game 1 before dropping two consecutive matches against UST en route to its 18th overall title.
Six years later, Eagles coach Norman Black promised to go for the kill.
“It’s hard to think about that. Everybody always thinks about 2006. It was a long time ago. We are just focusing on preparation and we just want to win this championship,” Black said after his wards survived UST, 83-78, last Saturday.
Black said they will try to come out and play better right from the start, referring to the Eagles’ wobbly first half before they recovered in the third quarter, where the team unloaded 30 points to enter the payoff period with a 10-point edge.
The Tigers replied with a 13-2 run to snatch the lead midway before the final buzzer but Kiefer Ravena and Ryan Buenafe stepped up to clinch the game for the four-time defending champions.
“We gave Ateneo a good fight. The boys are still a bit jittery since it’s their first year in the Finals but they will perform better next game,” Jarencio said as he looked forward to another winner-take-all tiff on October 13 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
To add more spice to this year’s finals, Black and UST coach Pido Jarencio engaged in a word war after the latter accused the league of spotty officiating especially in the last moments of the game. Jarencio told reporters last Saturday that his team failed to get fair calls because he doesn’t speak English.
Black, an American, felt insulted with Jarencio’s remarks, saying the statistics on free throws and infractions would show that the referees weren’t biased towards him.
UAAP commissioner Ato Badolato reminded the coaches to keep their emotions in check as he promised to give parties fair officiating.
Tickets for the 3:30 p.m. showdown at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City are already sold out. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)