FAR Eastern University's (FEU) Ryan Roose Garcia led his team to victory against Ateneo, which suffers first opening game loss in five years, at the Araneta Coliseum Sunday night.
Armed with the needed firepower in 34 minutes, the 20-year-old Zamboanga standout drained 15 out of his 25 points in the second half to erase his listless showing in the first quarter.
“He knows very well that the load of the team is on him already since Mark left and I’m glad that the whole team gave their full support to RR. But on this game, he had a shaky start but on the second up to the fourth quarter he was fine already,” said Coach Glenn Capacio.
Garcia, who faced the media in a shy mode, said he has more to show in the next few games as he batted for consistency.
“Last year they defeated us twice, and I’m happy we win this game,” he told reporters.
The doom is sealed for Ateneo when Nico Salva failed to endure FEU’s deep press in the dying seconds of the game as the Tamaraws leaned on hairline 70-69 score.
Bigman Reil Cervantes saved the lost ball for FEU but was fouled, giving him the opportunity to perfect his foul shots and hand the Tamaraws its first victory against Ateneo since July 31, 2008.
Ateneo last tasted an opening game loss, 78-60, against arch-rival De La Salle Green Archers in July 10,2005.
“Before this game, some are trying to discourage the team that they couldn’t make it but we encourage the players to do their best. They did not give up until the end of the game. We know that we are going up against a champion team,” said Capacio.
Ateneo mentor Norman Black said he is more than glad to move from this game and focus on defeating Adamson University on Thursday.
“I think the most important thing is to utilize the players I have. It’s just one game. We played against a good team as well. Fortunately, we have an immediate game and we can forget this easily,” said Ateneo mentor Norman Black.
The 52-year-old champion coach conceded that Garcia is a good player and that hitting the 20s is something that any player could be proud of.
“He’s a good player. We expect that,” said Black.
FEU will face a lowly NU squad on July 17 but Capacio maintained that all teams have a crack to upend any team this season.
“ Halos pantay-pantay lang ang lahat ng teams. Enjoy ang mga tao sa season na ito kasi pantay-pantay lang ang mga teams. We can’t really say that we are in any way above Ateneo or other teams. We just have to improve and double our efforts,” he said.
Sophie lifts Adamson
In the other contest, Eric Camson provided the clutch points to lift the Adamson against National University (NU) 60-54 as the Falcons relied on its veterans to on its debut game this season.
Camson registered a double-double to finish with 13 points and 10 rebounds while the duo of veterans Jan Colina and Janus Lozada pumped in 22 points.
“We had a good game and we just poured our focus especially in the last two quarters. We really have to stop (Joseph) Hermosisima because he’s main man all through-out the game. I’m glad that the players stepped up,” said coach Leo Austria.
This is the first time in five years that Adamson won an opening game, ironically against NU in Season 68.
The Bulldogs, for its part, leaned on Hermosisima and Melvin Baloran who chipped in 19 and 18 points, respectively.
But even with the modest showing, Austria admitted that Thursday’s tiff against Ateneo would be a different kind of ball game.
“Of course we have to improve the next game especially we are against Ateneo. We have to raise our confidence level, and we have push harder. We should not underestimate the heart of the champion,” he said.
Sought for reaction, Camson said the opening game is a confidence booster for him as he promised to play better as the season progresses.
“The community gave us big support and we have to reciprocate it by trying to win the games,” the 20-year-old told Sun.Star.
Over at the Arena in San Juan, the Lady Falcons of mentor Emily Vega routed De La Salle University (DLSU), 84-53.
Analyn Almasan used her 27 minutes to drain 22 points, 12 rebounds and two assists to banner the winning effort of Adamson.
The Lady Bulldogs, on the other hand, bucked a first quarter setback to nip University of the Philippines, 69-56.
Jovelyn Mejia and Meliza Mandap combined for 35 points while Pamela Meneses added nine to pace NU.
Adamson (60) – Camson 13, Lozada 11, Colina 11, Alvarez 8, Nuyles 5, Stinnett 4, Canada 3, Cabrera 3, Manyara 2, Galinato 0.
NU (54) – Hermosisima 19, Baloran 18, Mbe 8, Ignacio 2, Tungcul 2, Ponferrada 2, Magat 2, Javillonar 1, Khobutin 0, Eriobu 0, Terso 0, Singh 0.
FEU (72) – Garcia 25, Cervantes 13, Ramos 10, Sanga 9, Bringas 8, Noundou 3, Romeo 2, Exciminiano 2, Mendoza 0, Knuttel 0, Cawaling 0.
Ateneo (69) -- Salva 14, Buenafe 13, Long 11, De La Cruz 10, Escueta 6, Salamat 6, Monfort 3, Erram 2, Golla 2, Chua 2, Gonzaga 0, Austria 0.
The next game is scheduled Thursday, July 15, at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City with the Ateneo going up against Adamson at 2 p.m. and National University against La Salle at 4 p.m.(Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)