Sunday, June 5, 2011

UAAP 2011 Preseason: Ateneo-La Salle Filoil Results

2011 FilOil Flying V Preseason Tournament: De La Salle Green Archers vs. Ateneo Blue Eagles, June 4
[Photo credit: Joseph Nebrida for Inboundpass.]

Tsk, my favorite team lost yesterday.
Archers hit mark, reach QF
By Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Pint-size guard LA Revilla punctured the hoops in the stretch and his teammates made big defensive stops as the Green Archers turned back rival Ateneo, 66-61, to catch the last bus to the quarterfinals of the Filoil Flying V Hanes Pre-season Premier Cup yesterday at The Arena in San Juan.

Returning to the team after getting sidelined for two years by diabetes and hyperthyroidism, the 5-foot-7 Revilla pumped in 10 of his 12 points in the fourth period, including two dagger baskets in the last 1:09, to lead DLSU to a 4-3 card in Group A of elims play.

Full story…
With the loss the Blue Eagles are now 0-2 against the Green Archers in 2011. They had earlier lost to La Salle, 62-58, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates back in April.

After yesterday's game Blue Eagles head coach Norman Black said, "It's summer. Our main focus is the UAAP. We'll stay focused, and get better in July, and get better in September", putting the loss behind him and in perspective. He tried to downplay the significance of the loss, reminding the Ateneo (not-so) faithful that the games that count, the real battles for the 2011–2012 UAAP title and the rare four-peat, are still over a month away.

In a way he's right: yesterday's game was a mere elimination round game in a preseason tournament. It was a glorified scrimmage—although you wouldn't think that from the way Black himself acted during the game.

An Ateneo-La Salle game is never no-bearing, even if what's actually at stake is no more than bragging rights or ice tubig. Numerous times the TV cameras caught Black with a look of utter disappointment at the Blue Eagles' lackluster play. Then in the closing minutes when the game was still within reach he was still diagramming plays, coaching his butt off. So yeah, his unperturbed act was just that—an act.

(By the way, "We'll get better in September" is as close as Coach Norman will get to guaranteeing that Ateneo will make it to the Final Four in Season 74. The "no yabang" rule still holds.)

Coach Norman has a well-deserved reputation as a top big-man coach. Under his tutelage, former Blue Eagles Doug Kramer, Ford Arao, Nonoy Baclao, and Rabeh Al-Hussaini all developed enough to be drafted in the PBA.

Greg Slaughter, on the other hand, is a highly touted rookie who tore up the Visayan collegiate leagues before being recruited by Ateneo. While serving his residency year he joined the national team pool, and was part of the squad that competed in the last PBA conference where, as a backup center, he showed that he can hang with the big, bad pros by swatting 7 shots in one of their games.

Given those facts, the only reason I could think of why Slaughter played limited minutes and didn't seem too keen to stamp his imprint on the game (he scored only two points) is that the coaching staff is "hiding" him from the scouts of UAAP rivals in the run-up to Season 74.

Kiefer Ravena schooled veteran Green Archer Simon Atkins with a sick crossover move late in the game.This early I predict that that young man will make a run for the Season 74 Rookie of the Year trophy. Because of his scoring prowess defenses are compelled to hone in on him lest he wax hot and beat them all by his lonesome. Fortunately for Ateneo Ravena also has a knack for finding the open man, so whoever is on the floor with him ought to be ready for a last-second dish.

I'm still not sold on Nico Salva taking the most shots for the Blue Eagles. Although he scored a game-high 18 points yesterday, he seems to be in love with his outside (and by definition low-percentage) shot. Unless his jumpers have become automatic, he should drive to the basket more like his teammates Kirk Long and Emman Monfort to keep the defense honest and guessing.

Ateneo and La Salle debuted similar jersey sets. As usual, the Blue Eagles' uniform was chock-full of patches while the Green Archers kept theirs relatively clutter-free. However, I don't see both teams keeping those unis come Season 74.

Blue Babble Battalion alumni led the Ateneo faithful in cheering at halftime. It was their second time to do so in this tournament, as they also performed at the half during the Ateneo-San Beda game on Opening Day last April.

Now this is surely a minority opinion, but if they let Babble alumni perform those guys should put in a handful of practices beforehand (a lightning rehearsal a few hours before game time won't cut it).

It's cute and poignant (and sometimes even funny) when they take the court and try to relive their salad days. Most of the time, though, they only embarrass themselves and do their own proud cheering tradition a disservice with a poorly rehearsed "routine."

Take yesterday, for example. In a surprising and crowd-pleasing move, the BBB alumni performed a few routines alongside members of the De La Salle Animo Squad. They even wore shirts that bore the Ateneo and La Salle school seals for the occasion.

At first the two groups took turns performing the opposing side's cheers. But while the Animo Squad acquitted themselves well doing Ateneo cheers, the Babble alumni turned in a unsynchronized performance of La Sallian cheers. Then the two sides had a showdown, this time performing their own cheers. Perhaps because the spirit was willing but the flesh no longer was, the BBB alumni went for a kenkoy routine. The whole thing got old, fast.

So yeah, unless the Babble alumni really take it seriously I think they should retire that tired gimmick of having them perform at the break.

[7 June 2011 Edit]

If Coach Norman is to be believed, Slaughter hasn't practiced with the team that much. Here's what he said after the Blue Eagles' 63-56 Filoil quarterfinals victory yesterday over the Mapua Cardinals:
Black also described how Slaughter has not yet fully integrated himself into Ateneo’s finely tuned offense. "Last year, we had a wide open floor to operate. This year we have the Big Guy to integrate into our system so that is why our offense can be stagnant at times. Greg has had what – few practices with us since he joined the team in May? Our time in the States was mostly individual training and some games. With more practice, we’ll see what we can do."
Hmm. Something does not compute.

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