October 13, 2019
Former Philippine Sports Commission commissioner and Philippine Olympic Committee chairman
See what I told you? UAAP’s second round would be quite interesting, with the exception of the leading and defending champion Ateneo Five.
Favored UP lost to underrated FEU in overtime. Now, don’t tell me it was the new coaches’ fault. UP just played bad that day and FEU played their best game so far in the series. And just when FEU was celebrating, they lost their very next game to first round cellar-dweller NU. While UE beats Adamson and La Salle clobbers UST. What a circus.
Forget the World Cup. This game is still fun to watch. You never know what will happen next. There’s a scramble now for the top four. And after the first round, La Salle’s active consultant Jermaine Byrd is just beginning to know his players. His former high school standout Encho Serrano who used to average only 6 points in the first round suddenly hit 29 points in their first second round game. Of course, the boy claimed he didn’t play well in the earlier round cause he wasn’t given enough time. Which is quite logical. And Justine Baltazar suddenly explodes for 25 points with 25 rebounds against UST. Which explains why his Triple Towers are also starting to win games now.
As per my fearless forecast initially, the real showdown will be today at noon. Don’t ask me why this long awaited La Salle-Ateneo rivalry and “standing room only” encounter will be played in this ungodly hour. Ask the organizers. I believe they really don’t need the money. Some claim it’s because of the forthcoming SEA Games. You know what? These UAAP series will give us more thrills than the SEA Games basketball matches. Believe me. If not for the finals, we might have a boring basketball event coming up starting December 1. Don’t worry, even with no import, we’ll grab the gold, not only because of the strength of the team, but because we cannot afford to lose the title in our own backyard.
I did predict from the very beginning that only UST and La Salle have the best chances to upset Ateneo. But now that UST lost again to Ateneo, it’s only La Salle standing in the way. Because for the two schools, they can lose to anyone except to each other. Even if La Salle doesn’t make the Top Four, as long as they beat Ateneo, even for a single game, they have already achieved their goal for the year. They can attend their classes heads up high the next day and join their girlfriends after the game to celebrate. Been there, done that.
As for Ateneo, becoming champions again for this year will only become a hollow victory if they lose to the guys from Taft even once. Bragging rights na lang. I truly wonder how the Ateneo women’s volleyball team felt winning the crown last year, knowing they never won even one of the two times they played La Salle in both rounds. It’s do or die today and La Salle’s active consultant Byrd has no reason now since he has already been given a whole first round to familiarize himself with his players, the UAAP system, the referees, and know the opponents.
Although I still believe that Ateneo is still the team to beat with all the chemistry and teamwork they have nurtured through the last few years. And a coach who’s expertise is college basketball. UNLESS .… See you at MOA.
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