Monday, September 22, 2008

Gen Ad wasn't so bad...

...but it WAS pretty high up (at one point Yang and I couldn't recognize Jai Reyes warming up on the court far, far below), and it WAS pretty packed (ok, gross understatement), and we couldn't sit for the entire duration of the match. Then again, when you're watching Game 1 of the UAAP Finals between Ateneo and LaSalle, you don't sit down. Never mind that I barely had enough room to pump my fist in the air during cheers, or that my toes were in perpetual peril of being trodden on, or that the smell of about a dozen different colognes and deodorants were overwhelming me. I was just happy that I got into Araneta at all, that I was with my Upper Box-turned-Gen Ad posse, and most importantly, that Ateneo beat LaSalle. And being there to witness it firsthand was definitely worth getting sweaty, smooshed, and stepped on. It was a crazy experience, and I loved every squished-like-a-sardine second of it. Thanks to the angels who helped me get tickets (you know who you are!)-- my posse and I thank you from the bottom of our blue-blooded hearts!

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Now although I'm not complaining (much) about Gen Ad, it peeved me a bit to see how roomy it was in Upper B. We could even spy some vacant seats in the LaSalle side! I don't understand why Araneta chose to sell Gen Ad SRO tickets instead of Upper Box SRO, when there is wayyy more standing room in Upper Box. It wouldn't have been so uncomfortable in Gen Ad if there hadn't been so many people-- that is, if Araneta hadn't oversold Gen Ad tix. Not only is it unethical, it's unsafe. If for some reason there had been a stampede, I'd imagine a lot of people getting hurt, especially the elderly and small kids.

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Speaking of small kids, why is it that some parents insist on bringing them to UAAP games?? They're not exactly the most suitable venue for toddlers and kindergarteners. While waiting for the Ateneo-LaSalle game to start, Yang and I were being hit on the head and in the face with inflatable clappers and a foam finger, the culprit being a pesky 2-to-3-year-old girl behind us who kept running around. Finally Yang couldn't take it anymore and turned around to ask the kid to cut it out. A few minutes later, when the brat tried to push past our legs to return to her position behind us, Yang and I completely ignored her and didn't budge, standing our ground until she gave up and found another way around us. Oo na, pinatulan namin ang bata. So sue us.

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It's a good thing Ateneo prevailed, as my boss (i.e. my mom) told me she'd only let me take Thursday afternoon off to watch Game 2 if we win Game 1, her logic being, I can skip work only to see Ateneo win the championship. I'm actually really grateful to my mom for putting up with my Ateneo fanaticism, to the extent that she agreed to move a business trip of ours so as not to let it coincide with the Finals. I missed the 2002 championship; I sure as hell am not missing another... IF it happens. It's not that I have much doubt about it at this point, after our fairly convincing win in Game 1. The possibility of Ateneo bagging the title this season is so palpable everyone is already grabbing hold of it, but I'm also trying to rein in any urges to celebrate prematurely. Let's not count our roast calves before the bonfire, shall we?

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My friend and fellow Atenean Travis writes in his blog that he prefers the batch of Blue Eagles from the 2002 championship team over the line-up we have this year. An excerpt from his blog post reads:

Although the current squad wins with precision plays ending with open layups (Al-Hussaini), open threes (Jai Reyes) and a defense that funnels slashers to a tremendous shot-blocker (Baclao), I like the old squad better. They had far more talent but less effective training, so you'd see a lot of entertaining free-lancing... a reverse layup and step back 3 here (Tenorio), a baseline dunk there (Alvarez), and lots of brute force post-up play (Villanueva).

I don't know if it's primarily because I wasn't around that season when Villanueva and company claimed the UAAP crown for the Blue and White, so I don't have any kind of sentimental attachment to them, but I personally prefer this current crop of Eagles. I wrote at the end of last season about the strange affection I felt towards our boys in blue then, pretty much the same squad we have now save for Ford Arao, Zion Laterre, Ken Barracoso and Emman Monfort. I still feel the same way about this season's team. In response to Travis' blog entry, I posted this comment:

I like this batch of Blue Eagles better, precisely for the reason that they aren't as talented as Villanueva, Alvarez, Tenorio, et al were. That means they have had to work harder and show more discipline. I admire the maturity and level-headedness I see in our boys. Heck, they're not even boys anymore, under the training of Norman Black these guys have grown into men. You see it in Chris' collected leadership, in Rabeh's incredible improvement, in Jai's renewed confidence, and even in the way Nonoy got in Maeirhofer's face after that monster block in the dying seconds of the game (after all, isn't angas a sign of manhood too? :p).

Seriously, though, I was gratified to see the normally mild-mannered Baclao show some uncharacteristic aggression. It tells me there is passion within, and that he wants this championship as badly as any of this teammates. Of course I don't want him trading in his aw-shucks modesty for the kind of blustery swagger Ateneans are notorious for, but it's reassuring to know even Nonoy is getting all fired up. Besides, anyone who mops the floor with Maierhofer can do no wrong in my book.

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In about a few more hours, Fara's supermaids will be lining up at the Araneta Coliseum box office to try to buy tickets for Thursday's game. While I wouldn't really mind sitting in Gen Ad again, I think I would rather have a bit more elbow room this time. I have a hunch I'm going to need it.


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