The last time they faced each other in Season 77, Ateneo climbed from a 19-point deficit to send the game to overtime, steal the win, and clinch the number one seed. For sure the Katipunan fanbase were hoping against hope for an epic comeback last Sunday. But lo and behold, they did not have enough firepower to do a repeat. I’ve been saying that they do have the talent, but newcomers pitted against the heavy title favorites on their first game? Hello baptism of fire.
It would have been ideal if Jerie Pingoy lambasted his former team but the kid looked too gigil and too eager perhaps to immediately contribute that he ended up muffing all six field goal attempts. Hopefully next game would be different.
1. Ateneo allowed FEU to produce 113.2 points per 100 possessions at an effective field goal rate of 57.4 percent. That’s not bad. That’s waaaay bad. The Tamaraws mercilessly breezed their way through the Eagles’ weak defense. Chibueze Ikeh swatted a few shots but the inside attacks of basically everyone from the other side were too fast, too furious to handle. Tolomia looked like he was having loads of fun scoring in various ways. They were also sizzling hot from the perimeter with Pogoy leading the pack with four triples and a total of team-high 19 points.
2. The Blue Eagles could not score inside – only 20 points in the paint compared to FEU’s 42. It’s not like they came empty-handed. The first quarter actually looked promising in terms of trying to run their offensive sets (the operative word being “trying”) but either they end up botching the pass or missing the open shot. Coach Bo Perasol experimented on different combinations of players yet none seemed to work against the relentless defense of the Tams.
3. The Hail Mary squad won the offensive rebounding battle, which they failed to take advantage of as they only made five second chance points while the Tamaraws scored 14. Lady luck refused to give them favors that even their point-blank putbacks and tip-ins could not find the bottom of the net.
1. Last season’s MVP Kiefer Ravena lived up to the expectations of not only scoring but also involving his teammates and creating opportunities for them. At some point, though, he decided to put on his superhero costume and carry the whole world on his shoulders. It’s not being selfish; it’s responding to the emergency call. He was visibly frustrated and exhausted towards the end of the game and who wouldn’t be? His stellar 25 points on 58.1 percent true shooting, five rebounds, and six assists were all for naught because the rest of the gang were mishandling the leather and misfiring. Even supposed partner-in-crime Von Pessumal had an off game (1-for-8 from deep) though I’m confident that he’ll drain those triples next time.
2. Gwyne Capacio‘s shining moment has been a long time coming. Some Blue Eagles fondly call the University Games tournament in Bacolod “Uni-Gwynes” because of how Capacio stood out during their 2011 Unigames championship run. I caught 2-3 games back in 2012 and 2013 and Capacio really played as if Unigames was his stage. Since then, I’ve been waiting for him to bring his A-game to the UAAP. Now on his final year for the blue and white, I hope Capacio finally gets his chance. He’s off to a good start with 14 points on 46.7 percent effective shooting – the only one in double digits aside from Kiefer.
3. I still think Ponso Gotladera deserves more playing time. In limited minutes, he tallied 6 points (3-for-3 from the field) and 6 rebounds. He was the only solid offensive weapon inside the paint, as Ikeh’s role is more focused on rim protection and rebounding. The Nigerian big man could not convert a field goal but he scored two points from the line and grabbed eight boards.
For me, this lopsided loss is more of an indication of how crazy good and insanely deep the FEU Tamaraws are than how horrible the Blue Eagles are. Yes they are inexperienced and they definitely need to improve on a lot of things, but it’s only the first game. The rookies still have many opportunities to prove themselves worthy of the pre-season hype. And Kiefer? He will only be more unstoppable from here on.