“Very unpredictable. If there were two words to describe this season, it’s that.”
This season has been very unpredictable. You find yourself up by 16 points after three quarters of action. Next thing you know, you’re down by 10, and you find yourself on the losing end of a ballgame. Life comes at you fast.
It’s been a season that has been up and down for all the teams, but it probably applies to the Blue Eagles the most. In essence, it’s not that surprising that their season has been up and down. After all, they are a young team. With a young team also comes prospects who show their potential during the course of the season. That has been the case for the Blue Eagles.
With that, I present to you some of the Blue Eagles who have impressed after the first round.
The former Ateneo Blue Eaglets standout wasn’t expected to receive much minutes. After all, he was to play beside two former MVPs (meaning finals or regular season) in the Juniors’ division in Jerie Pingoy and Hubert Cani. Despite that, one could say that Matt Nieto has actually impressed the most among the three guards.
Matt has received the most minutes among the three, averaging 17.9 minutes. He’s also lived up to the billing of an all-around point guard, posting 4.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. Despite the heavy minutes he has received as a rookie, Matt has remained effective and efficient, putting up a PER of 15.2. Do note that Andrei Caracut, Matt’s chief rival for the Rookie of the Year award is putting up a lower PER of 10.5. Finally, the smaller Nieto has definitely done a good job of being one of the leading playmakers for the team, putting an assist rate of 23.1%. That stat of his tops that of more established point guards Achie Inigo and Thomas Torres.
Matt has played his role to perfection this season. He’s mentioned it time and again. He’s going to be the defensive stopper who will disrupt the opposing guards of the team, and the organizer who will set up his teammates. Every time you interview him, he will mention how it is his job to “set up Kiefer and Von.” He knows what he has to do, and guess what? He’s done a heck of a job doing it.
Coming into the season, Jerie Pingoy was expected to produce monster numbers. So much hype was placed on the kid that the UAAP even made a rule in his name just so he couldn’t play for two seasons. He hasn’t produced monster numbers, that’s pretty obvious. But in terms of impressing the Blue Eagle community? He definitely has.
In terms of stats, if there’s something which stands out when it comes to Jerie, it’s his ability to make plays for the team. His 2.9 assists per game average may not be mind blowing, but his 31.5% assist rate is what stands out. That stat of his ranks fourth in the league among players who average 10 or more minutes. The players who have a better AST% than him? Mike Tolomia, Joseph Nalos, and Ravena. That’s some impressive company to be with.
Despite not receiving as much minutes as people expected him to get, Koko has been quite impressive when it has come to his role as the playmaker of the team. He’s done a good job of settling the team down when the other team is in the middle of a run, and he’s had his fair share of highlight reels this season (Anyone remember that layup he did over Alfred Aroga against NU?). Was the hype that Koko received before the season warranted? If his first round performance is of any indication, then yes. Jerie Pingoy after all, is very good at basketball.
Big John was part of the vaunted 2014 recruiting class of the Blue Eagles. Despite that, he was overshadowed by batchmates Thirdy Ravena and Arvin Tolentino last season. It wasn’t just because Thirdy and Arvin were more popular to the public already because of their involvement with the national team before. It was also because the Hope Christian standout didn’t receive much minutes last season. Amidst all the odds, John Apacible has found ways to contribute for the Blue Eagles this year.
It’s hard to analyze Apacible statistically, because of how limited his minutes have been. But, if there are stats that show just how effective he has been, it has to be his PER and Offensive Win Shares. His impressive 37.8 PER may be a bit inflated because of his limited minutes, but it is still impressive nonetheless. The same can be said for his OWS. But a 0.3 OWS in limited minutes is an impressive number, considering he is playing in an Ateneo Blue Eagles team that relies a lot on Kiefer for scoring.
Rebound the ball. Score off put backs. Defend. Set hard picks. Bring energy to the team. It’s obvious that those are the things that Apacible is expected to do every time he’s on the floor. Those things are really simple. But, Apacible has actually done those things. Not only did he do those things, but he did those things very well.
Coming into the season, a lot was expected from the reigning Rookie of the Year. After all, he was already armed with a season of experience, and he has shown the ability to dominate in the offensive end. However, with expectations also come criticism from the public. And this season, Arvin has been the subject of some very harsh criticism from Ateneo fans.
Let’s see if the stats will somehow favor Arvin. If there’s a stat which will really stand out here, it’s his defensive rating (DRTG). He has a DRTG of 79.7. Just how good is that number? It’s the third best in the Blue Eagles right now. Also, Chibueze Ikeh as a DRTG of 79.6. That means he’s only better by 0.1. Impressive? It gets even better. Per 30 mintues, he’s averaging 13.0 points and 9.7 rebounds. Considering how he has been the whole season, I think he can be able to replicate those stats when (and if) he’s given more minutes.
Despite all the criticism, Arvin has actually impressed this season. Sure, he’s had episodes of boneheaded plays on both ends of the floor. But overall? He’s actually improved from last season. The ATrain has made smarter decisions on the floor, making passes when he needs to, and driving to the hoop when he can. Plus, he’s actually put in effort in the defensive end, something fans have been very critical of when it has come to the former San Beda Red Cubs team captain. It’s evident that Arvin is a very talented player. He has all the tools. He’s impressed, but he can impress even more. Now to #FreeArvinTolentino.
The team has had its fair share of heroes this season. It’s not just the people in this list, but also others who have done a good job as well.
But if there’s something evident with the players in this list, it’s this: they’ve gone the extra mile to try to lead the team to victory. They’ve exemplified MAGIS.
After all, Ateneo always talks about MAGIS right?
These guys have shown it. Because of that, they have shined bright and impressed in the process. Hopefully, the rest of the team can follow suit, and it will result to brighter days for the Blue Eagles. #OBF