Monday, September 20, 2004

Win or lose, it's the school we choose...

Last Sunday’s game was probably the most grueling, depressing, and exasperating game for the Ateneo community in the 67th season of the UAAP. We were beaten (when I say beaten, I mean emotionally and physically beaten…) by our arch rivals, the De La Salle Green Archers, and took away our chance for a rematch against the defending champions, the FEU Tamaraws. It was a very sorry loss for our part.

The game started out well for the Blue Eagles. Everyone played well, scored well, defended well. However, come third quarter, it unleashed what our fellow Atenean and commentator TJ Manotoc feared the most. The Ateneo Blue Eagles’ third quarter scoring drought. La Salle outscored the Eagles, 19-7 in the third quarter. This, thus, mounted the lead of the Archers to an astounding 14 points.

After seven straight games of utter jubilation due to a 7-0 slate in the first round, here came the end of Ateneo’s career in the 67th season. As my Lasallian (and Lasallian wannabe) household neighbors would put it, better luck next time.

So what went wrong? In college basketball (or probably in other leagues, as well), there are three factors to winning a game: focus, teamwork, and heart. In a game where the two teams are considered equally talented, it is in these three factors that will determine who is the better team.

Definitely the biggest factor that would make a team win a championship is their mental focus. Playing in a highly emotional game is a test of patience and concentration. Talent and physical strength are no longer applicable. What matters more is the intensity and the maturity in the playing field.

What happened to the Ateneo team last Sunday was a defeat against themselves. They succumbed to the La Salle psychological warfare, thus, breaking their concentration and focus. This resulted to defensive lapses, scoring drought and loss of temper. As my kanto buddies would say, “napikon at nawala sa ulirat.”

During one of the plays in the second quarter, Blue Eagle Badjie del Rosario was called for a warning due to second motion against Archer Jerwin Gaco. The sad part is that Badjie thought Jerwin was the one snatching the ball from him, only to find out that it was his teammate, LA Tenorio.

Second, if you want to win a basketball game, you need to play as a team. A team inside a court is composed of five (5) players, each with his respective role according to his position. The Ateneo team managed to bring about excellent teamwork during the first round of the eliminations. Even with the absence of their star player, King Eagle Larry Fonacier due to an ACL injury, they managed not just to survive the first round, but to win all of its games. This is mainly because each player has done his part in the playing field. JC Intal stepped up, LA Tenorio played like a surrogate captain, Paolo Bugia increased his intensity, and Magnum Membrere added more heart.

However, last Sunday’s game was one of the most individualistic games I have ever seen. They rarely move without the ball, often turn the ball over, and seldom make extra passes to open men. Just in the first half of the game, the Blue Eagles committed 17 big turnovers. Imagine if these were all successful plays, they could have led over La Salle by a big margin in the first half.

Lastly, in order to survive a very close, neck-and-neck battle against your arch-rival, you need to get ahead by psyching up and having the “winning attitude.” We should always “play like there’s no tomorrow,” possess the heart of a champion.

In the National Basketball Association (NBA) last season, the underdog Detroit Pistons showed how much important is focus, teamwork and perseverance is in a basketball game. Nobody expected this team to enter the finals in the first place, however, they managed to surpass all obstacles that got in the way, and was given the opportunity to take on the most formidable team, the Los Angeles Lakers. And surprisingly, they won the 2004 NBA Championship. They weren’t the strongest team as others perceived to be, but they overcome their fears, stayed focused, and played like a team.

The Blue Eagles may have suffered an upsetting Final Four elimination, but surely the experience taught them a number of valuable lessons that shall strengthen them in the years to come. Since the 67th season is now over for the Ateneo Community, let us now focus on the next task at hand, season 68. Until then, we shall still proudly shout and cheer... Fabilioh!!!

1 comment :

Pamela said...

grabe jervs!bilib na talaga ako sa loyalty mo sa blue eagles at sa passion mo for the game. bakit ba kasi hindi ka na lang naglaro for "The Arneo"? eh di sana you could have been the reliable source of focus, teamspirit, at heart.

to the student of the GAME, cheers!