MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo Blue Eagles may have swept their archrivals De La Salle Green Archers this UAAP season, but they didn’t exactly have the best start.
The Blue Eagle were trailing for most of the 2nd quarter – by as many as 8 points, 21-29, – as big men Angelo Kouame, Isaac Go and Raffy Verano got into foul trouble early in the game.
But the Katipunan-based squad quickly adjusted despite fielding a smaller lineup as Ateneo rallied back to tie the game at 35-all by halftime.
“For us, it’s all about the next man up, being ready for whatever situation may arise and I think our team did a pretty good job with that,” said Thirdy Ravena, who surprisingly came off the bench.
“It’s all about whatever happens, you have to be ready for it. That’s why I really love my team because everyone is ready to step up.”
Ravena even went head-to-head against La Salle’s Kiwi player Taane Samuel, who returned from a left foot injury he sustained right in the opening game.
But the Ateneo swingman managed to stop Samuel in crucial plays as forward William Navarro also came through for the Blue Eagles at the paint.
“Naswertehan lang ‘yung help sa akin, ‘yung rotation and yeah I just jumped. I was scared that he (Samuel) would dunk on me but buti na lang hindi,” admitted Ravena.
(I was lucky to get help from the rotatation and yeah, I just jumped. I was scared that Samuel would dunk on me but it’s a good thing he didn’t.)
Go – who picked up two fouls in his 4 minutes of play – believes that this “next man up” mentality challenged them throughout the season.
During the 2nd round, the Blue Eagles had to play without veterans Mike and Matt Nieto, who were sidelined due to dengue and injuries, and Ravena, who also served a one-game suspension against FEU in the second round.
“You couldn’t really ask for more from them,” said Go. “They worked hard, grabbed rebounds, executed the offense, played great defense. You got to give that unit credit, and it’s really been towards like that where we’ve always had that next man up mentality.”
“That’s what we tried to do all year round even with the coaching staff, and it’s paying dividends as you saw a while ago.”
Even though they’re playing a no-bearing game against University of Santo Tomas on Wednesday, November 14, the Blue Eagles look to sweep the second round to gain momentum heading to the Final Four. – Rappler.com
There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.