Saturday, October 02, 2010

UAAP Season 73: Ateneo's Three-peat and UP's Return

Thank God I had two bets in the UAAP. Both of them stepped up to bring out the best in them. And they both were successful.

University of the Philippines Maroons showed that they are indeed the country's best cheerdance team as they took on another year as champions of the UAAP Cheerdance Competition. Thanks to them they did not bring back last year's Blue Book. :) I know that the concept is good last year, with the Blue Book and all. But if you have foreign judges who don't even know what a Blue book is, they would simply ignore the concept. Good thing they injected a few acts about festivals, some points that made us famous worldwide. nice act! See the embedded video below:

And of course, my other team, the Ateneo Blue Eagles, won their first-ever UAAP Men's Basketball 3-peat Championship! They joined the ranks of La Salle, UST, UE and FEU as one of them team that have already won grandslam championships.

It was a very difficult season for Ateneo as three of their starters, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Nonoy Baclao, and Jai Reyes, graduated last year. But the guys stepped up as Kirk Long, Nico Salva and Ryan Buenafe took on their respective leaderships roles alongside Team Captain Eric Salamat. Salamat showed his dribbling and passing prowess, while Salva and Buenafe had their of outstanding plays. With a youthful supporting casts headed by sophomore Justin Chua, big men Jumbo Escueta, Art de la Cruz and Frank Golla, and the maturity of mainstays Bacon Austria and streak-shooting Emman Monfort, the Blue Eagles are indeed up to the challenge of bringing back home the championship and gain their first-ever three-in-a-row. They showed critics that they are really a team to beat, despite the lack in size.

FEU had their share of superstars, headed by Season 73 Most Valuable Player RR Garcia, Smart Gilas trainees JR Cawaling and Aldrech Ramos, veterans Paul Sanga and Reil Cervantes, and rookie phenom Terrence Romeo. But in the end, the team with the bigger heart and the greater will to win prevailed. And it showed in the finals season.

FEU cruised the regular season as they only registered two losses, one from Adamson and another from La Salle. But in the final four, it was a strange surprise that this team, who was perceived to be inevitable, almost lost to the 4th-seeded young squad of La Salle. They still won in the overtime. In that game, it showed that they had their weaknesses. And with the seen weaknesses, Ateneo stepped up.

Ateneo, on the other hand, showed that they wanted to go back to the finals and face the team that beat them twice in the regular season. The Blue Eagles defeated Adamson in a commanding, power-packed game. Adamson had an equally powerful cast with Lester Alvarez, Alex Nuyles, Jan Colina, Jerrick Canada, and Eric Camson. In the end, the championship experience in Ateneo prevailed.

The finals began last week, Saturday. I was in Cebu so I wasn't able to watch the entire game. Thank God to Cebu Airport's free wifi I was able to watch the final minutes of the game, with Ateneo leading by at least 23 points. The game ended 72-49. I thought maybe the FEU squad was just warming up for the finals, that's why the first game turned into a blowout.

The second game last Thursday was more intense. I thought in the first quarter that Ateneo became too confident, as they trailed 22-13. Looks like Coach Norman gave them inspiring words as the first quarter ended, and their intensity wnet back to normal, making the game a certified nailbiter. The game was not decided until the last 50 seconds or so, with Ryan Buenafe hitting the long-distance dagger from at least 1 feet away from the professional three-point line. FEU tried to come back with Reil Cervantes' long distance bomb, however, it was just 1 second away from the game. The game was decided at 65-62, with Ateneo taking home the third championship in three years! Go Ateneo!

Here's a glimpse of the final minutes of play, including Buenafe's three-point bomb. Boom!

Now, Ateneo has three years of bragging rights with its three magnificent championships, its first-ever three-peat performance.

As for UP, it needs to have major overhaul of its basketball program. I hope they get it going soon. But for the cheerdance, it has yet again redeemed the State U after having ended the basketball competition with a winless record.

As for me, Thank God I am rooting for two teams in the UAAP. And both of them became champions.

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