This appears in ateneo.edu
Ateneo smothers local heroes Hercor to gain semis
by rick olivares photos by brosi gonzales
October 27, 2011
As several dozen onlookers gathered to watch the Ateneo Blue Eagles engage in their pre-game stretching drills and warm-ups, trainer Andre Tolentino calmly instructed: “Let’s give them a good show, guys.”
Barely an hour later, the Blue Eagles put on an incendiary performance in front of a packed Capiz Gym that roared with every three-pointer made, every crossover and acrobatic layup, and every JP Erram dunk.
There was a buzz about the game around town from the moment it was announced that Ateneo would be facing their hometown heroes, the undefeated Hercor College Jaguars in the quarterfinals. Even the local cops and tricycle drivers were aware of the game. If you wore an Ateneo shirt and took a trike the driver would mention the dust up to strike a conversation.
The Capiz Gym was packed to its capacity of over four thousand people with several thousand more waiting to get inside. The crowds got so thick that a police cordon (with a Philippine Army squad on hand for support) was needed just to get the Blue Eagles inside the venue. The only time this happens, according to a local, is when a top Philippine Basketball Association club or some celebrity act is in town. “Abi mo championship game ang game sang Jaguars versus the Ateneo Blue Eagles,” observed one policeman. The venue attendants got so nervous about the crowds pushing their way in that they – gasp – literally padlocked the main entrance until a policeman said that it was highly unadvisable.
The Hercor College Jaguars had some hot shot Cebuano recruits in their lineup (brought over by team consultant Elmer “Boy” Cabahug whose son plays for Ateneo Team B) and they had given this Roxas City school a boost in local caging.
As if the crowd wasn’t already buzzing with excitement, the round robin further whet their appetite as both teams put on a dunkathon. After one Jaguar tomahawked the ball that had everyone up in their seats, Ateneo’s JP Erram took to their, pumped once before throwing it down nearly blowing off the roof of the small gym.
But exactly four minutes after tip off, a disbelieving crowd (that cheered for both sides) had to rub their eyes to make sure the scoreline was correct – 22-2 for Ateneo.
The Blue Eagles countered the raw athleticism of the Jaguars by throwing at them their patented choking defense that saw them net four steals, three blocks, and force up three airballs in that span. On offense, Juami Tiongson continuing that sterling form he displayed in the UAAP finals for this Unigames hit a trey. Erram tipped in a Tiongson miss. Gwynne Capacio stole the ball drove in for an and-one. Justin Chua laid the ball in off a brilliant pass by Tiongson. Tonino Gonzaga broke some ankles for a crossover and a deuce.
When the reserves went in, their continued to run their sets while further blanketing the Jaguars that had the home crowd somewhat jeering their team.
After BJ Cipriano hit a trey from some 25 feet out to end the first quarter, 40-11 for Ateneo, many fans got up from their seats to leave (they were replaced by those waiting outside) shaking their heads in disappointment.
Cabahug grabbed his shellshocked Jaguars to point at the crowds leaving as if to say, “This is an embarrassment. And on your home floor no less!”
In the second period, the referees tightened their whistles and Ateneo was in foul trouble after only three minutes. After center Jeric Estrada was whistled for his second foul, the second year Blue Eagle center looked to Coach Sandy Arespacochaga and said, “Wala naman foul, coach.”
“Home court nila,” replied Arespacochaga. “Taas lang kamay and just play.”
Ateneo closed out the quarter strong with a Gonzaga drive following another crossover and a Tiongson layup to beat the buzzer, 56-26 Ateneo.
In the third quarter, after Chua fed Erram for a spectacular slam in traffic, a tournament official (not to be confused with the table officials that include the official scorer and the barker), perhaps unable to contain his anger and the embarrassment of the home side, called for time in the middle of play (and he wasn’t even a referee). He warned Erram for hanging on to the rim.
Two minutes later, Erram got the ball on the high post. Jaguar Joselito Equipolog gambled hoping for a steal but the Blue Eagle center corralled the ball then swooped in for another rim rocking jam that had the audience give a standing ovation.
The Blue Eagles capped their entry into the semifinals stage of the men’s basketball tournament with a Marky Mercado triple for an 88-68 lead with 2:16 left. Hercor’s Rene Locsin, one of the few bright spots for the Jaguars hit a triple for his game high 29 points (including seven triples) to end the game at 88-71 for Ateneo.
Said Cabahug who has played the Blue Eagles several times in the Champions League and other Visayan leagues, “It’s a painful but good lesson for the boys (the Jaguars). But they need to learn from the best. Kita mo naman ang Ateneo wala yung starting five pero grabe naman yung focus and depensa. And to think natapos yung UAAP early October. That’s the best basketball team out there.”
Ateneo 88 – Tiongson 16, Cipriano 15, Erram 12, Gonzaga 11, Adornado 9, Pessumal 6, Capacio 5, Chua 4, Siarot 3, Mercado 3, Golla 2, Estrada 2.
Hercor College 71 – Locsin 29, Bonite 13, Arruebo 10, Alocillo 8, Amigable 4, Arruebo 7, Almedo 2, Solon 1.
Notes: Juami Tiongson and Tonino Gonzaga lead the Ateneo Blue Eagles with four assists each. Hercor College has seven Cebuano players in their fold (as recruited by Elmer Cabahug).