Monday, September 15, 2008

UAAP Season 71 Final Four: Do Or Jai

Wow. That's all I can say; I still can't wrap my brain around the implications of yesterday's game results.
Archers, Eagles seal dream clash
By Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The dream showdown just got sealed.

Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University ousted their final Four opponents in contrasting fashions to arrange the much anticipated title duel between the country’s fiercest collegiate rivals.

The Green Archers earned a shot at defending the UAAP crown by ousting Far Eastern University with a dramatic 67-62 escape in the 71st men’s basketball semifinals yesterday at the jampacked Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

And it seemed that the Blue Eagles couldn’t wait to lock up the blockbuster finale as this season’s top seed trampled on the University of the East Warriors, 70-50, in the other Final Four duel.

In any case, here are my notes from the game:
This encounter promises to be a low-scoring affair as Ateneo and UE are the league's top two defensive teams.

The Blue Eagles have a twice-to-beat advantage and are favored to prevail. They are are on an eight-game roll and they swept both meetings against UE this season.

The Red Warriors, however, are no slouches. They're on a three-game win streak of their own. Their two losses to Ateneo were only by an average of five points.

Most Valuable Player candidate Rabeh Al-Hussaini is the Blue Eagle to watch in this game. UE doesn't really have anyone who can match up with him, and in the two games against the Red Warriors he averaged 18.5 points and 14 rebounds.

First Quarter
The Blue Eagles look out of sorts and fall behind by six early on. Perhaps the eight-day layoff got to them. However, they right the ship and go on a 12-0 run to end the quarter up by six.

Second Quarter
Ateneo opens with an 8-2 blast and leads by as many as twelve. UE tries to catch up but only gets as close as eight points. The Blue Eagles close with a 3-0 run for an 11-point lead at the half.

The Blue Babble Battalion mixes it up this time and lets three cheerleaders perform with them. Whoop-de-do!

Despite the slow start, stats show the Ateneo ahead on field goals, field goal percentage, assists, fast break points, and turnovers forced.

Third Quarter
Nonoy Baclao goes on a 5-0 run to start the third. The rout is on! Everytime UE scores Ateneo answers back.

A 7-0 run puts the Blue Eagles ahead by 21 after three quarters. Their defense is so stingy UE only manages to score 7 third quarter points and 28 total.

Fourth Quarter
Ateneo begins the quarter with seven straight points, five coming from Baclao, for the game's biggest lead at 56-28. Coach Norman Black fields his second- and third-stringers.

The final winning margin: 20 points. Bring on La Salle!

Jai Reyes garners Player of the Game honors with 13 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist.

But if it were up to me, I would have picked Nonoy Baclao. His scoring bursts to start each of the last two quarters really took the fight out of UE. Ateneo also got solid games from Al-Hussaini, Eric Salamat, and Ryan Buenafe.

The biggest surprise in this game was Chris Tiu scoring only two points. He also took only a few attempts. My twenty says those won't happen against La Salle.
The Blue Eagles get a week's rest before they play arch-rival La Salle for the championship. I just hope they don't start slow again. They dodged a bullet this time; they can't afford to do it again.

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