Monday, September 18, 2006

Post-game perspective

So Ateneo beat Adamson in the UAAP semifinals, and we're headed for the Finals this Sunday, determined to seize a championship that many of my fellow Ateneans believe is rightfully ours, after we dominated the elimination round with a 10-2 win-loss card. Granted, our boys have played remarkably well this season-- the absence of our arch(er)rivals notwithstanding-- and they deserve this shot at the title. However, I think we need to be reminded that there are still at least 2 games left to play, 1 team left to overcome.

The way the Ateneo crowd was behaving during yesterday's game against Adamson (who, let's face it, were worthy opponents), you'd think "Ateneo Blue Eagles" was already inscribed on the UAAP championship trophy. My dad summed it up neatly: if Ateneo doesn't win the championship this season, all hell's going to break loose.
Yesterday, the Ateneo gallery at Araneta was even more keyed up than your usual intense Ateneo mob (it almost felt like an Ateneo-LaSalle match!). The frenzied Atenean energy was bordering on rabid. Every call that went against us was greeted with loud boos, the referees were jeered every time they slapped fouls on our players, and at half-time a small ruckus broke out when Coach Norman Black used profane language while protesting a non-call in the dying seconds of the 1st half.

Standing in the midst of such a fired-up, fanatical sea of supporters, I admit it was easy to yell along every time a ref blew his whistle and made a call that went Adamson's way. And our view from the uppermost row of the Upper A section wasn't exactly a vantage point, so every foul seemed like an imaginary infraction. But when I got home that night, I watched the replay of the game telecast (yeah, yeah, I'm a die-hard Atenean, like you didn't know that already :p), and I realized that majority of the referees' calls were spot-on. Sure, there were a handful of oversights, but I chalk it up to human error rather than "luto". The problem with us gungho Ateneans is that we tend to get carried away by the fervor of our school spirit, and let it blur our better judgment. You only need to take one look at all those scarily overzealous middle-aged alumni seated at ringside, the ones who bawl out the refs and even our poor players when they mess up, to know what I'm talking about. That Jesuit-educated men-- and even women-- can conduct themselves in such an unbecoming manner is sad indeed.

Sure, we stand a good chance of becoming champions this year. Sure, we have the deepest bench of all the competing schools. Sure, Chris Tiu is hitting those sweet treys and JC Intal is getting those awesome dunks. But hey, we haven't won it yet, so let's not act as if we cannot accept anything less than a championship. Both UST and UE are strong teams who have each handed us 1 of our 2 losses, and whoever emerges triumphant in their do-or-die game this Thursday could still very well hand us our arrogant asses in the Finals.


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