Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Rivalry: Winners and Losers

Round 1 of the Ateneo La Salle rivalry just wrapped with the young Green Archers pulling off a surprising 66-63 victory over the two-time back-to-back champions. Heading into this contest, Ateneo had won the last six contests (including a two-game sweep in the UAAP Finals) over a span of two years Of course, this win automatically puts the DLSU team as a whole in the winners column, but where does everyone else fall?

Sam Marata : Winner
The sophomore shooter was having a quiet game before dropping back-to-back three-pointers in the 4th quarter that turned a four point deficit into a two point lead. Marata would finish with 12 points, on 4-4 shooting from beyond the arc, and a first taste of victory over the Blue Eagles.

Championship Experience : Loser
For all the talk about the Blue Eagles’ experience from their back-to-back titles campaigns, they sure did choke in the end game, didn’t they? After a near perfect start to the 4th quarter where Ateneo hit its first 8 shots including a mind-blowing double-clutch three point shot by Kirk Long to beat the shot clock and another buzzer-beating jumper by the struggling Nico Salva off a last second kickout, they ended the game by missing their last seven shots en route to a ugly collapse.

Justin Chua : Winner
Chua, the least heralded player from Ateneo’s recruiting coup from two years ago, followed up his breakout game against UST last weekend with another solid performance on both ends against archrival DLSU. His play should cement him as the #1 big in Ateneo’s rotation and secures him regular playing time going forward after playing sparingly last season and in the team’s first two games. He did everything tonight save for knocking down either of his two attempts to tie the game with a three-pointer at the buzzer.

Coach Dindo Pumaren : Winner
Nobody was giving Dindo or La Salle much of a chance before the season, but everybody should be taking notice now. The Green Archers surprised a lot of people by the ease by which they disposed the once-promising UP Fighting Maroons in their opening game. I initially thought that the young Archers, with their always formidable system, would overachieve their way to some surprising performances. But at some point, that ‘overachieving’ tag would have to be dropped. Youth aside, this team is what it is – a fast and deadly pressing unit that will give teams lots and lots of problems. And if you like giving credit where credit is due, point it somewhere in Dindo’s direction.

Bacon Austria : Loser
I’ve never understood why Austria gets all the minutes that he does. Yeah, he isn’t averse to showing up with a hardhat and lunchpail and I appreciate players like that. But he really is a bit of a dropoff from Eric Salamat, Ryan Buenafe and Long. No way Austria should have been playing that much in the 4th in this game (although to be fair, Long did foul out) and he showed it by making an ill-advised drive that ended up in a turnover and a missing a wide-open three-point attempt that helped DLSU claw its way back into the lead.

The Rivalry : Winner
Look, rivalries aren’t worth much when the teams aren’t competitive. And though a case can be made that the first four in Ateneo’s six game run against La Salle falls in the competitive department (two of them were in the UAAP Finals after all), there’s just no way a multiple-year drought for either team can be good for a rivalry. This balances things out a little, and should make for more competitive battles in the near future.

No comments:

Post a Comment