This appears in ateneo.edu
Scuttling the Pirates
Ateneo 92 vs. Lyceum 77
by rick olivares
photos by brosi gonzales
photos by brosi gonzales
April 27, 2011
The Arena of San Juan
You know the feeling of coming off a hangover and that there’s the possibility of a headache the following day?
It’s the pre-season. Only it’s not what it once was. The games are now taken seriously. You try hard to win and if one is triumphant then there’s a “imagine that” exclamation. However, if one loses, there’s the excuse, “Yes, it’s the pre-season and we’re experimenting.”
There was that opening day game against San Beda where there was a buzz about the rookies and the meeting of the champions of the different leagues. The turnout for the game was incredible that people had to be turned back from the gates because it was a full house. And there was the win.
And after that there were the Lyceum Pirates. The Intramuros school’s hoops team has had the reputation for being a tough one to play. San Beda ran them roughshod but they there were flashes of San Sebastian in their game.
So the word was “be careful” and “watch out”.
If the Pirates forgot to pack their jumpshot during their match against the Red Lions, they made sure they brought it against the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
They led early on as the UAAP champs couldn’t buy a basket. But once they settled down and posted a 22-14 lead, Lyceum coach Bonnie Tan yelled at his wards, “Lumolobo na (yung lamang)!”
Ironically, it was the Blue Eagles’ bench that pushed the lead up to 15 at the half, 48-33. There were the FilOil debuts of Mark Tallo, Von Pessumal, and Gwynne Capacio. Save for Tallo, the latter two were able to put some points on the board.
After a Frank Golla undergoal stab to open the third quarter, the lead was at its highest of 17. But Lyceum’s Floricel Guevarra and Chris Cayabyab combined for 18 third quarter points to cut the deficit to seven, 65-58.
The lead went down to five after John Foronda displayed some fight in him that he didn’t while at Letran and UST. He gamely battled Ateneo slotman Greg Slaughter underneath as he finished with 12 points and 7 boards. But the national player pounded Lyceum inside with a pair of slams and nifty drives.
“Sarap ng feeling na nakakabigay ka ng alley-oop pass sa kakampi mo who can finish it with a dunk or an acrobatic layup,” gushed Kiefer Ravena after the match. “You only see that in international matches, the NBA, or the PBA.”
After a three completed quick strikes to Slaughter, the Phenom, who has been known to put up a highlight with every game, beamed with pride. “It’s something I can tell my parents.”
Go tell it to the mountain.
Or the mountain that Greg Slaughter is. The big man topscored for Ateneo with 17 points, 12 ribbies, 2 assists, and 3 blocks.
“It’s only this week that I began practicing fulltime with the team,” said Ateneo’s tallest ever player as he wiped the beads of sweat the formed in his brow. “I hope to be able to learn the system soon.”
While this new crop of rookies and newbies – Ravena, Slaughter, Pessumal, Tallo, and Capacio – look to perhaps be the largest haul with greatest potential*, it was some old hands who showed them how seniors hoops is done. Nico Salva, exuding bold confidence and a vastly improving game, stoked the mid-range jumper, did the Kirk Long spinneroonie for a pair of layups, and converted an alley-oop layup.
Zags compiled 8 points, 4 caroms, and 3 assists. But the stats don’t begin to tell the story. When Lyceum threatened to once more make a game of it, the Tazmanian Devil himself, Tonino Gonzaga, supplied enough energy to light up the San Juan Arena.
“Energizer,” whispered Ateneo statistician Jover Chavez after Gonzaga helped retain ball possession for the Blue Eagles.
When it was all over, a 92-77 victory for Ateneo in the FilOil Pre-season Tournament, Norman Black’s squad had its second win in as many starts.
The 15-point romp aside, the final numbers didn’t begin to tell the whole story. The Pirates sniped from afar, battled back, and showed no fear. It was by no means an easy win. Ateneo had to earn it.
You know the feeling about hurdling a tough assignment and thinking that the worst is yet to come?
It’s UST on Saturday.
Ateneo 92 – Slaughter 17, Salva 14, Monfort 12, Ravena 11, Long 8, Gonzaga 8, Erram 8, Chua 7, Golla 2, Tiongson 2, Capacio 2, Pessumal 1, Tallo 0
Lyceum 77 – Guevarra 20, Cayabyab 17, Foronda 12, Ko 10, Mallari 9, Azores 3, Napiza 3, Laude 2, Lacap 1, Salazar 0, Anacta 0
* The last time a huge batch of rookies and newbies made the Blue Eagles was in 1985 when Jun Reyes, Jet Nieto, Joseph Canlas, Robbie Tanjuatco, Alex Araneta, and Llen Mumar moved up to the seniors squad.