Jaz is a regular reader of the blog. He does have a real name but asked me to keep his identity a secret and instead go by the alternick of Jaz (he's not from ADMU). He asked if he could ask me a few questions about sports via chat and here is the transcript of that exchange.
Jaz: Are you enjoying Euro 2008?
Rick: Most definitely. It shaping up to be a great tournament because it’s not playing out to the way football analysts predicted it to be.
Has anyone noticed how the crowds have been chanting to the opening bass line of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army?” Now that is so cool.
Rick: I like the Three Lions. Always have. But the French, I kinda liked them when they had Patrick Battison as their sweeper. We played the same position so it was natural that I liked a player of his caliber. But I really started rooting for them when Youri Djorkaeff was playing and of course, Zidane. And their kit is colored blue. Hahahaha.
Jaz: You don’t seem surprised that
Rick: Yup. I thought that they were extremely lucky in Euro 2004. They snuck up on everyone then, but every team's been gunning for them since.
Jaz: You picked
Rick: For one thing, no one is disregarding the Croats. They eliminated
Jaz: How about the NBA Finals. Who are you really rooting for?
Rick: I’m an Eastern guy so that means the Celtics obviously. But the Lakers have KB24 and PhilJax who I also like. Although I like the Celtics, I cannot stand the Red Sox and the Patriots so I’m not a solid
Jaz: Yes, it sure does. Let me ask about the Spurs. You take shots at them in your column and blog.
Rick: I oft YM my friend, Rely San Agustin, ‘The Spurs suck!” And he’d YM right back, “The Bulls suck!” And I’d say, “Damn right they do!” We both then have a laugh after that. Yeah, I don’t like Spurs. I don’t really like Western teams. There are few exceptions though... the Run-TMC Warriors and the Kings of the early new millennium.
Jaz: How do you see the upcoming UAAP basketball season?
Rick: It’s like this… if I were to rank them, it goes this way:
Jaz: Not very kind to your Blue Eagles, are you ?
Rick: I’m two-for-three so far. 2002 (when we won), 2006 (I thought we’d win), and 2007 (Final Four). And those predictions were before the season got underway. I’m ranking them now at #5, but if they mesh well especially by the first round, Final Four at the very least, baby.
As I said, much of their success can be attributed to how well they mesh. The ball doesn’t whip around the way it used to in the last two years and understandably so. If there’s some great hoops, it’s played in spurts. Plus, I don’t think there’s a set rotation yet, but Coach will get to that. I trust him after all. If they’re able to integrate well enough, they’ll be more than a handful for other teams.
But the team is well-motivated. I hope they realize that they cannot turn their games on and off lest there be another ambush like that telling loss to NU last year. There are no gimmes this year. Not even UP. Seriously.
Jaz: How do you think opponents will try and beat Ateneo?
Rick: Simple. Clamping down on the outside shooters. The other teams are tall enough to play us in the post. The outside shooting will spread the defense and give room for the forwards to do their stuff. But if Ateneo’s guards are shut down… it’s going to be a long game. Yet if Rabeh, Nonoy, Mike, and Jobe attack and defend the post like Enrico, Rich, Wesley, and Paolo used to then it’s lights out for the opponents. As much as Chris gives us a shot to win, I’m still maintaining that Rabeh’s mental fortitude and strong play will elevate the Blue Eagles.
Jaz: Who do you figure to be real contender?
Rick: DLSU is a team that you cannot discount. The coaching staff manages to find the right personnel to run the system. UST I suspect will play well once the tourney begins. Clark Bautista is there now. He didn’t like the idea of being on Ateneo’s Team B so he moved to UST where he’ll do very well. They’ve got a very good back court now along with Cuan and Fortuna.
FEU… they have this factory where year after year they roll out tall and rangy forwards who can snipe at the basket all the way from Lerma. And they are plenty tough.
UE will miss Mark Borboran. Although they gang rebound, if Elmer Espiritu can stay away from foul trouble then they’re hard to beat. Man, that guy should be a great pro player. I actually like the upside of his game better than KG Canaleta. His dunk on Sam Ekwe… man that was awesome. Like JC Intal on Veejay Serios or Paolo Bugia on Ronald Tubid.
Jaz: You don't agree with Nike's Mythical 5 selection?
Rick: Dan right I don't. Yeah it's a brand thing, but then again if that's the case, don't invite the teams that wear a different brand. So here IMHO are the rightful awardees:
Guards: Chris Tiu and Paul Lee
Forwards: Ric Cawaling and Rico Maierhofer
Center: Sam Ekwe
Jaz: Last before I let you go. What sport would you like to cover now?
Rick: I wish I had a chance to follow Maria Sharapova or even Ana Ivanovic for one tournament. And if not that, fishing, hiking, and golf. You’d probably see the former and the latter happen sooner than later.