Eagles, Archers rip foesOkay, so the next team Ateneo outscores from three-point land will be its first. Where's Jai Reyes when you need him and his "shotgun?"
By Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Justin Chua came off the bench with a breakout game as the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles tamed the University of Santo Tomas Tigers, 68-56, to claim a share of second place in the 73rd UAAP men’s basketball competition Sunday at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
Chua posted career-highs of 17 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks to lead the back-to-back champions to their second straight victory in three outings.
I'm glad Justin Chua was finally able to show what he can do on the court. Credit also goes to head coach Norman Black and his staff: ang ganda ng hugot!
Chua, a Most Valuable Player awardee in the high school league Tiong Lian Basketball Association, was part of Ateneo's bumper crop of rookies in 2008. But unlike his batchmates Ryan Buenafe and Nico Salva who figured prominently in the Blue Eagles' title runs in Seasons 71-72 and won individual trophies in the process (Buenafe was the 2008 Rookie of the Year, Salva the 2009 Sixth Man of the Year), Chua rode the bench. His bad luck? Ahead of him on the Ateneo depth chart was 2008 MVP and 2009 Finals MVP Rabeh Al-Hussaini.
In the past two seasons Coach Norman fielded Chua a paltry five minutes per game. And in those limited appearances Chua's play was, to be charitable, largely uninspiring. He looked tentative; lost, even. It seemed that he would be joining fellow high school hotshots Ken Barracoso and Eric Yao on the list of Blue Eagles who, for some reason or another, didn't soar in college play. He saw limited minutes in last week's loss to FEU, and didn't even play against Adamson last Thursday. That is why I'm sorry I missed his career game yesterday.
With the recent transfer to Ateneo of University of the Visayas center and Smart Gilas Pilipinas team member Greg Slaughter, it's possible Chua will again ride the pine in Season 74. But that's still a long way off. This year he has a good chance of playing heavy minutes, what with the relative inexperience of the other bigs on the Blue Eagles roster, and his excellent game yesterday.
Next up for Ateneo this Saturday is the much-awaited match against archrival La Salle. This early it looks like I might not catch that game, too.
The Lady Eagles lost to the FEU Lady Tamaraws, 68-46, and dropped to 1-1.