Like their last encounter, it was a tale of two halves but who owned which half was different. It was the Blue Eagles who showed lackluster efforts in the first twenty minutes. The Green Archers were feasting on Ateneo’s careless mistakes early on, converting 14 points off Ateneo’s 11 turnovers. Their starters were also having a blast attacking Ateneo’s scrambling defense.
After the halftime break, the Eagles regrouped and executed their game plan better. They used their speed advantage by manufacturing points off fastbreaks. They also limited the La Salle to 21% effective shooting in the third frame, while maintaining a 53% clip. The Archers couldn’t buy a bucket as Ateneo outscored them 23-9.
The ever-reliable Prince Rivero tried to bail La Salle out in the payoff period but Ateneo refused to go back to their old ways of crumbling in the endgame. It did not help that Jeron Teng was forced out of the game with still over three minutes remaining due to five fouls.
Ateneo and La Salle are on opposite ends of the second round hotness meter.
Ateneo is currently the hottest team in the league. They lost their second round opener against FEU, but after that, they’ve been unstoppable. Their 5-1 record is extra sweet, given all the major controversies that their team has been exposed to in the past month.
“Napakagandang posisyon ang meron kami ngayon but that is not to say that the job is already done. It’s just to say that we have little victories that we wanted to celebrate,” says Coach Bo Perasol. They are already assured of the third seed, but should they win against UE and FEU loses their last two games (NU, DLSU), they can still fight for a twice-to-beat edge.
La Salle, on the other hand, just suffered their fourth loss in five games. Their Final Four chances are still on the rocks. It looks like NU is not flinching and UE also remains a threat. The Green Archers were pegged to be sure contenders, but here they are, caught up in such mess. They struggled against both league leaders and cellar dwellers. Their losses to UP and Adamson are surely haunting them right now.
Kiefer and Von are maximizing their final year as teammates.
Kiefer and Von have been playing together since the sixth grade, and now that they’re donning the blue and white colors for the last time, they seem hell-bent on making the most out of it.
They’ve been topscoring for the Blue Eagles as expected, and really bad things happen to their opponents when they’re both having an A-game. Take the match against NU as an example where they combined for 52 of Ateneo’s 68 points. Their familiarity with each other has helped them co-lead the team on and off the court, and this has been pretty evident in the second round.
Von says he had mixed emotions on quite possibly his last Ateneo-La Salle experience. “I’ve been in the Ateneo my whole life. This is the last time that I’ll face La Salle. Of course I’m happy [with] the win but I’m sad I won’t be in this atmosphere again.”
Kiefer, meanwhile, does not want to dismiss this as his final rivalry game. “Ayokong sabihin na last na kasi di pa tapos yung season, yung eliminations. Hindi ko pa iniisip kung bittersweet kasi baka meron pa in the future. Kailangan ready lang din palagi.” He said Jeron also told him after the game that they’re going to see each other again.
At this point, the only chance for another Ateneo-La Salle game to happen is if both teams make it to the Finals. It’s a long shot, but hey, wouldn’t that be awesome?
The Blue Eagles are in good hands with Aaron and Adrian.
Ateneo needs consistent bench contributors and Aaron Black and Adrian Wong have graciously embraced that role. It used to be worrisome when Kiefer and Von are not on the floor, but with Aaron and Adrian, you can never go wrong. When the ball is in their hands, you just got to trust that they won’t waste the possession by going for high percentage shots.
Adrian apparently missed some practices due to a sprained ankle, but there were no traces of it as he chipped in 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting. He also took on the tough job of keeping in step with Jeron.
Aaron, for his part, contributed 13 points in only 13 minutes of play. His every shot has always been filled with swag but the most highlight-worthy in this game would have to be the impressive behind-the-back crossover that left Jeron in the dust. Shades of Black magic.
Thomas Torres’ late-game booboos deserved an MJ crying face meme.
Scenario: Ateneo up by five, 43 seconds remaining
For some reason, all blue shirts gravitated towards one side of the court, leaving three green shirts wide open – Jollo Go in the corner, Andrei Caracut in the left wing, and Prince Rivero right under the basket. With 12 seconds on the shot clock, Thomas Torres went, “Guys, I’ve got this.” Brainfart moment.
How bad it actually looked like:
How Jeron must have felt like:
Thomas later on committed his fifth foul that caused him to go berserk and allowed Ateneo to add more cushion. Earlier in the game, he was also called for a foul that made him curse like there’s no tomorrow. Dude, it was obviously a foul. Haha.
He’s still cute though.
Kiefer trolling his hacker was the Best. Thing. Ever.
Given his free throw struggles, Kiefer was the target of La Salle for the hack-an-Eagle strategy that they wanted to employ in the last few seconds of the game. Of course Kiefer didn’t want them to have it easy. HE RAN AS FAST AS HE COULD, like a criminal running away from the police, like an employee running away from Friday night deadlines, like a guy who just wants benefits running away from commitment.
I laughed hysterically when I saw him do this, what with the flailing arms and the come-and-get-me grin on his face. Priceless. He couldn’t escape for long as La Salle managed to foul him twice after this crazy chase. The hacking backfired though because Kiefer sunk all four of his freebies with ease.
What a troll, this Phenom is.