Monday, August 04, 2008

UAAP diary: Ateneo vs UST, round 1

There's no experience in the world like watching an Ateneo-La Salle game live, but since I missed the first ADMU-DLSU face-off this season (which we won, woot!), I decided to catch the next best thing: Ateneo versus UST. Thanks to Fara (and her super-maids who lined up at the Araneta Coliseum box office), I managed to secure 4 Upper B tickets for myself, my friends Yang and Angelo, and my sister, who's a UST alumna. However, Hanks backed out at the last minute because she's been having ear problems, and she was afraid she couldn't take the noise level of a UAAP basketball game.

It was a good thing she didn't join us because we wound up getting seats right below the Blue Babble Band, and for some reason their drums were extra L-O-U-D yesterday. Each time the band struck up their drums to start a cheer, we would jump in surprise. Clutching my chest, I told my friends ruefully, "I think we're getting too old for this!", to which old man Angelo retorted, "Uy, kayo lang a!" Indeed, we cheered more loudly than the kids sitting in front of us, who would sometimes turn around to glance bemusedly at the shrieking banshees in blue behind them. The Ateneo school spirit gets stronger with age, even if our hearts can't handle the pounding of the Babble drums.

Angge had taken Hanks' ticket (because Mike passed on it, tsk tsk), and I think she's lucky for Ateneo because the one time she watched a game with us last season, we had won as well. This time our boys didn't do it in as dramatic a fashion, but it was still a close fight, and at one point in the 3rd quarter, UST clawed back from a 10-point deficit to snatch the lead from us. Ateneo took it back, but the Tigers kept nipping at our heels all the way to the 4th, until the Eagles soared high in the end-game, holding them to a single measly field goal during the last 5 minutes of play. Jai Reyes' 3-pointer, which came with less than 30 seconds left on the game clock, was the cherry on top of our sweet Sunday (pun intended), and sealed the victory for the White and Blue.

Yesterday's game had almost as much excitement as an Ateneo-La Salle game, but with less of the animosity. Though the Coliseum was not jam-packed, both sides' supporters turned up by the thousands, the sea of blue facing the wash of yellow. I always feel a bit torn whenever we go up against UST, and yesterday was no different, as I occasionally found my foot tapping to the beat of their drums. But when all is said and done, I bleed blue, and I was exultant Ateneo finished their first round of the season at the top of the rankings. Props to Nonoy Baclao for his solid defense, Rabeh Al-Husseini for his consistency and reliability (he has my vote for most improved player!), Jai Reyes for his revived shooting and speed, Eric Salamat for his wily steals (and for playing with a broken jaw), Ryan Buenafe for his aggressive attacks, and Chris Tiu for... well, being Chris Tiu. Never mind how we're all stymied as to what kind of debt of gratitude Norman Black owes Leo Austria which might explain his persisting in fielding Bacon Austria, who is quickly becoming this batch's Badjie del Rosario (heck, same jersey number!).

Don't look for any philosophical musings on winning or losing, sentimental gushings on how much I love Ateneo, or political views on how the UAAP has been (mis)handling this simmering sinister stew of game-fixing, referee suspensions and FEU player Mac Baracael's shooting, which is just about to reach boiling point and spill over in a big gloopy mess. I'll reserve all that for a future blog entry. I just wanted to recap what was a great game, AND have a convenient excuse to post some pix here (because if I wait until I finish uploading my Europe vacation photos on Multiply, the UAAP season will be over). We're only halfway through the season, and there's still a long road ahead for the Blue Eagles. But we'll be there cheering them on every step of the way. ONE BIG FIGHT!


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