Sunday, October 14, 2012

UAAP Season 75: Farewell, And Thanks

With the conclusion of UAAP Season 75 basketball tournament these men have completed their stints with the Blue and White. Best of luck to them in their future endeavors.

UAAP Season 75: Ateneo Blue Eagles vs. Adamson Falcons, Sept. 9
[Photo credit: Juan Benjamin Janeo for Inboundpass]

Oping Sumalinog is nothing if not resilient. He returned from missing the 2010 season with an ACL injury to earn two more championship rings. He has four total (plus a sharp sense of humor).

UAAP Season 75: Ateneo Blue Eagles vs. UP Fighting Maroons, Aug 25
[Photo credit: Juan Benjamin Janeo for Inboundpass]

In my opinion, this year Tonino Gonzaga didn't play as well as he did in the 2011 season. Nevertheless, he's one of three players (together with Justin Chua and Nico Salva) who have five straight UAAP Men's basketball titles to their name.

UAAP Season 75: Ateneo Blue Eagles vs. Adamson Falcons, July 15
[Photo credit: Juan Benjamin Janeo for Inboundpass]

Although he was a prized recruit coming out of high school, Justin Chua spent his first two seasons in the shadow of Rabeh Al-Hussaini. He became a starter in 2010, but was again relegated to the bench following Greg Slaughter's arrival last year. Other players might've chafed at the demotion, but Chua sublimated his ego and accepted, if not embraced, his reliever role.

UAAP Season 75: Ateneo Blue Eagles vs. FEU Tamaraws, Aug 18
[Photo credit: Juan Benjamin Janeo for Inboundpass]

Two years, two Mythical Five selections, and two championships. I can't wait to see Greg Slaughter beast it up in the Philippine Basketball Association and/or with the Philippine National Team.

UAAP Season 75: Ateneo Blue Eagles vs. De La Salle Green Archers, Sept. 1
[Photo credit: Juan Benjamin Janeo for Inboundpass]

The UAAP history books have Nico Salva as the first player to win Most Valuable Player honors in back-to-back Finals.

UAAP Season 75: UST Growling Tigers vs. Ateneo Blue Eagles, July 19
[Photo credit: Juan Benjamin Janeo for Inboundpass]

Because he led my favorite PBA team to multiple championships (including a rare Grand Slam in 1989) Norman Black was already one of my favorite basketball coaches even before he joined the Blue Eagles in 2004. After eight seasons as Ateneo head coach and 16 championships in various tournaments, including the last five in the UAAP, he returns to coach in the PBA once more. To say that he will be missed would be an understatement.

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[Photo credit: IRRI Images on Flickr]

Although I have an issue with how Manny Pangilinan timed and publicized his recent "disengagement" from his alma mater, I must give credit where credit is due. He gave invaluable support to the Blue Eagles basketball program over the past few years, and for that he deserves the Ateneo community's profuse thanks.

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