Monday, March 20, 2006

Team 4F 98: “Game na ba kayo?!”

Special thanks to Mikko Javier

A reunion of sorts

It started out as a weekly reunion of sorts through a game we loved playing most… Every Saturday, basketball aficionados of Ateneo High School 4F batch 1998, along with some friends from the Ateneo College who eventually became part of the family, meet up in the college covered courts to play ball for hours, with the objective of losing some weight and have some weekend fun. Upon learning about the Ateneo Basketball League, one of us just played with the idea of forming a team. What was once a joke eventually became a serious consideration. By the end 2003, the weekend ballers enlisted to become a legitimate ABL team. Thus, the birth of Team AHS 4F98.

Team 4F98 was formed on four fundamental objectives: to have a weekly reunion with our dear classmates (be it players or spectators, we never fail to have a post-game dinner after every game), to have a weekly workout and cardio-vascular exercise, to have a feel of an official basketball game, and to simply have a good time.

Indeed we enjoyed our participation in the ABL and excited a number of batch mates who watched several games from time to time in the course of the 3 seasons. The last and latest season of which, 2006, gave us our first-ever championship.

Three years in the making

In 2004, the team played in the Primitivo Martinez division, wherein we won our first ABL game. This provided us the confidence and determination to play our best in every game. Unfortunately, we fell short of making it to the final four that year. We had a 3-4 win-loss card. We were tied with two other teams in fourth place, however, the quotient system dictated our fate. We were behind by more than 20 quotient points.

We had a rather dismal performance in 2005, when we had a winless 0-7 card. This was the year when all three wins were forfeited because of a roster glitch. Despite a rather disheartening season, the team never ceased to play the ABL, since the main objective was to have fun and just play the game.

Finally, in 2006, we were enlisted in the newly-formed Fr. Cipriano Unson division. Not-so-serious as we all are, we still needed to break the 9-game curse and started the season with gusto and overall enthusiasm. After warming-up, we huddle to say a prayer for guidance and safety of the players. After which, our coach shouts to the top of his lungs: “GAME NA BA KAYO?!” We respond by cheering, “GAME NA!” That sound reverberates around the coliseum after the first huddle, signaling the start of a fierce, but fun, hoop action.

Accomplishments and milestones

And after a 9-game losing streak since 2004, we won our first game of the 2006 season. We were so elated by the first win, the team needed to take pictures because the win may never happen again. One player even took pictures of the final score just to show evidence that AHS 4F98 intermittently wins a basketball game.

We just thought maybe the prayer and pre-game cheer was lucky. We didn’t realize that we got game until the end of the second game. Statistically, never in its three year existence did Team AHS 4F98 experience a two-game winning streak. When the second game turned out to be a win, we had our hopes up.

Not only that. The team experienced several milestones this year. Most significant of all is the 7-0 card, which led us straight to the finals. And of course, extending the winning streak to 8 by winning the first-ever Fr. Unson Division championship. History tells that we were only the second team to have made a comeback 7-0 sweep from a 0-7 win-loss card the previous year.

Also, AHS 4F98’s win is regularly judged by its performance in the third quarter. When we are behind at the end of the third quarter, we lose the game. We experienced a couple of third-quarter deficits, where our opponents led by as much as 5 points. But this time, we won on those games. Our third-quarter curse was broken this year.

Finally, most of our team members led in the division’s statistical records. Jayvee Reyes’ steady shooting made him the best three point shooter of the division in terms of percentage. Marc Martinez proved that he is truly the best defensive player of the division, posting a division-best 3.38 steals a game. Playmaker and playing coach RJ Militar provided the necessary assists, making him the best passer of the division. And of course, the awards: four of our players, Marc Martinez, Jayvee Reyes, Jervin Reyes, and Juaqui Gutierrez made it to the mythical five; Marc Martinez was given the Best Defensive Player award; and Juaqui Gutierrez was the runaway winner of the Most Valuable Player award.

First-ever finals experience

Thanks to the 7-0 run in the eliminations, Team AHS 4F98 went straight to the finals and played against Team Macaraig, the team that rose from 4th place to the finals by defeating Team Ledesma and the powerhouse Team Genuino. We were rather uneasy at first, due to the fact that our star player and Most Valuable Player Juaqui Gutierrez is out due to an ankle injury, while our solid rebounding support Alfred Vargas is unavailable. However, we kept our composure and focus in the game.

Special thanks to our air-tight defense in the first half, Team Macaraig was held to a low scoring first half (under 20pts.), while we found ourselves leading by 20 points because of the 3-pointers launched by 4F98’s sweet-shooting gunman Jayvee Reyes.

Team Macaraig managed to make a comeback in the second half by their run-and-gun game. Their fast break points eventually cut our lead to 8 pts. 4F98 scored only a measly 3 points in the third quarter. Team Macaraig failed to erase the deficit 4F98 provided early in the quarter, but they came to as close as 5 points away.

Feeling the pressure and needing to stop the momentum, Team Captain and Best Defensive Player Marc “Macho Mitch” Martinez stepped up and scored numerous fast break points off several steals early in the homestretch. JC Aliling, 4F98’s secret weapon, rookie and go-to guy sealed the deal by bombing Team Macaraig with two consecutive 3-pointers with under 3 minutes to go in the 4th Quarter. This gave back 4F98’s double-digit lead. Team Macaraig held on by giving intentional fouls but had no bearing on the score or hope of reducing the lead. Team AHS 4F98 won by 9 points.

Seeing the convincing lead with less than two minutes left, Team 4F98 could not contain their ecstasy and the bench was going crazy out of eagerness to win the championship for the first time.

This was a fruitful season for 4F98. Eight-straight wins and a championship. Truly a memorable year for the team.

Above every victory and championship accomplished in the ABL, Team 4F98 is successful in its primordial objective in joining: to relive the memories of high school and keep in touch and bond with friends and classmates through the sport that binds us all.

“GAME NA BA KAYO?! GAME NA!” Team 4F98, congratulations on our unprecedented ABL Unson Division Championship. Until the next season…

The players

Team Ateneo High School 4F98:
Marc Martinez (Team Captain) – Best Defensive Player
Juaqui Gutierrez – Most Valuable Player
Jayvee Reyes
Jervin Reyes
RJ Militar
JC Aliling
Mikko Javier
Arnel Reniedo
RT de Jesus
Smiley Mateo
Paul Ochinang
Ron Margallo
Alfred Vargas
Anton Changco
Dingdong DantesMark Santos