Blue Eagles rip Growling Tigers, nail ninth straightFor years now Ateneo's Kirk Long has had the well-deserved reputation of being a Growling Tiger tamer. As a rookie in 2007, he scored 9 points in the fourth quarter then sank a buzzer-beating, game-winning jumper over Season 70 MVP Jervy Cruz to beat UST in the second round. It was the victory that started the Blue Eagles' unbeaten streak over the Growling Tigers that now stands at 10 games spanning 5 seasons. Then two years ago, in yet another second round encounter Long dropped a then career-high 21 points on UST built around a 5-of-6 shooting clip from three-point territory.
By Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA—An Ateneo squad claiming it has yet to reach its full potential dumped University of Santo Tomas, 82-57, for its ninth straight victory in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles held the sloppy Tigers to six points in the first quarter and the defending champions went on to lead by over 30 points twice to highlight their dominating show.
Nico Salva fueled the early assault and finished with 20 points and seven rebounds as the Eagles sustained their bid for an elimination sweep and an outright championship berth.
With Long's UAAP career ending after this season, it looks like Ateneo center Justin Chua could inherit the mantle of being UST's tormentor. In the Blue Eagles' first round win over the Growling Tigers in Season 73 he had a breakout game, tallying then career-highs of 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks. And in yesterday's blowout victory, Chua contributed 18 points (on 5-8 FG and 8-8 FT), 3 rebounds, and 1 block in only 17 minutes of action.
It was great to see Justin Chua finally have his breakthrough game of the season, especially since what I anticipated last year has come true. With the arrival of his more celebrated teammate Greg Slaughter, Chua has ridden the bench after playing major minutes in Season 73. All of his numbers (4.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 0.4 blocks in 10.1 minutes per game) are down from last year (8.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks in 19.5 minutes per outing), and his body language has regressed to pre-2010 levels. Prior to yesterday's game he hasn't smiled much during their games this season.
Lately, though, it seems that Chua has started to come to terms with his fewer minutes. For instance, in Ateneo's last 3 wins he scored 4, 9, and 18 points after notching just 10 over their first 6 games. That speaks highly of Chua's level of maturity in dealing with his reduced role, and bodes well for when the Blue Eagles play the games with greater stakes.