Blue Eagles look to build on last year’s success
by rick olivares
Several months after their UAAP Finals stint, the Ateneo Blue Eagles return for the new college basketball season, hopefully, better if not a year wiser from the experience gained.
The veterans include Vince Tolentino, Kris Porter, Chibueze Ikeh, Anton Asistio, Aaron Black, Thirdy Ravena Isaac Go, and brothers Matt and Mike Nieto. Entering their sophomore years are Jolo Mendoza, Jawuan White, Shaun Ildefonso, and Raffy Verano while making their debut are former youth player Gian Mamuyac and Bryan Andrade who both sat out last season while playing on Team B. Tyler Tio who also played in last year’s summer league but not the UAAP is also in the line-up. With Adrian Wong out with a knee injury, his younger brother, Dan, is suiting up for the upcoming FilOil Flying V Premier Cup that tips off this coming Monday, May 1, 2017.
The Blue Eagles, who made the semi-finals of last year’s summer league, will play on Opening Day against Lyceum of the Philippines University at 3:15pm at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Curiously, the Blue Eagles did not shore up their frontline. Although Ateneo was ranked second in team defense, they were fourth in both rebounding and inside points. Many of their points inside came from the wing players and the guards who in the second round began to attack the interior with more determination and ferocity.
One bright spot inside was the play of 6’7” center Isaac Go who began to become a force in the middle. In one stretch, he scored 15 points for three consecutive matches. He finished the season with an average of 6.1 points and 4.0 rebounds.
Ateneo was also known for its gritty team play and were second only to the University of the East in assists.
Second year head coach Tab Baldwin will have to look for someone to replace Wong’s 8.9 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per match as well as his penchant for being clutch on both ends of the court.
The team has a more home grown look with 10 players coming up from their juniors ranks in Porter, Asistio, Black, Ravena, the Nieto brothers, Mendoza, Ildefonso, Mamuyac, and Andrade.