Ateneo Exacts Vengeance on UP
The Ateneo Blue Eagles vindicated their upset against the UP Fighting Maroons with a convincing 93-75 victory last Sunday.
Ateneo was simply firing from all cylinders as they leaned on the three point frenzy of Jai Reyes and Eric Monfort, which held the Maroons scoreless in the first 6 minutes of the first quarter.
The Blue Eagles league ballooned to 26 during the 4-minute mark of the last quarter. UP could only muster enough to cut the lead down to 18. Martin Reyes lead the Diliman five with 21 points.
Ateneo will now square off with the Tamaraws for the last time on Saturday. The non-bearing game will be basically for bragging rights as the number 1 team in standings for this season. An FEU win will bring them at par with the defending Champs.
As for the Maroons, they drop to 7th place with 3-10, the same standing they ended last season with. One more game is up for UP on Saturday, against number six Adamson.
With the earlier win of the Adamson Falcons over the UST Growling Tigers, things have suddenly become interesting in the UAAP. Though no longer in the final four contention, Adamson improved their spot to the 6th place, while the Maroons are down at 7th spot. Both teams will close out the elimination rounds on a square-off on Saturday. If Adamson wins, UP will have to content themselves with the same output as last year, when the Maroons went 3-11 as well. If the Maroons take the attrition game against the Falcons, however, UP will keep the tie knotted with Adamson.
As for the last ride to the Final Four, all eyes are on UST and La Salle. La Salle will have to win their last game against NU, and hope for UST to lose to UE on Saturday. If that happens, UST and DLSU will face-off for the rightful contender to the final four. In effect, La Salle’s hopes are no longer in theri hands. Even of they win over the Bulldogs, a UST win will automatically spell elimination for the Archers for the first time since Franz Pumaren became head tactician 11 years ago.
As for our UP Fighting Maroons, they will have to win this last game to at least end the season in a high note. A win will definitely improve their output in win-loss records, and will also be a good moral booster as they look to rebuild and restructure for next season.
With the newbies like Alvin Padilla, Mikee Reyes, Carlo Gomez, and Mark Juruena performing good this year, the prospect for a better output next year is not too far anymore. Mike Silungan will probably be eligible for playball next season, which gives the Maroons a better wing force. Most of the veterans will still be around next season, making them one of the most mature and most intact carry-over team. If all goes well, UP might just barge into the final four for the first time since Paolo Mendoza brought the Maroons to the F4 slot many years back.
As far as the coaching staff is concerned, all eyes are on Aboy Castro now. Going into his third year, Coach Aboy will have to draw out from his magician’s hat all the tricks he has in order to bring the Maroons to the elusive F4. He will have to build his inventory of coaching skills that will match the playing level of what might soon become the formidable chemistry of UP Fighting Maroons next year.
But let’s not look too far just yet. Up ahead are the Falcons, wishing for another win over us. A convincing vanquishing of the UST makes them a scary team on the other side of the court.
But don’t count UP out just yet: we’re not the Fighting Maroons for nothing.