Since time immemorial, there has always been a storied rivalry in the UAAP between the Ateneo Blue Eagles and the De La Salle Green Archers. And in Season 71 this year, that rivalry was revisited as both teams faced each other in the Finals in yet another epic battle. Ateneo, however, was DOMINANT the entire season, and ended it with a bang by sweeping their rivals to the tune of 62 – 51. The boxscore can be found below for those who are interested.
I’m not going to write a recap here nor do anything the many forums out there have been doing, which is get both schools to bash each other. It’s rather funny though, but I’ll leave that to them, hehe. I just wanted to give my two cents on why La Salle lost. But I’ll give credit where it’s due, as the Green Archers still got to the Finals even if they had a team that really didn’t have enough to be able to get there and win it. Props to them for reaching the Finals and playing their hearts out.
So why did they lose? For me the reason was pretty clear and rather simple. They had no leader on the team this year and they could turn to no one when the pressure was on. In the past teams they had, they always had guys you could count on. Mike Cortez was there, Cardona, and Ren-Ren. These three guys kept the DLSU engine in amazing shape and were constant threats at any point in the game. Cortez was a pure leader, and you could always count on Mac Mac and Ren-Ren for clutch points. This team they have this year had none of that and you can clearly see it If you watched the 2 games in the Finals. When Ateneo’s defense tightened, La Salle’s offense sputtered and they really had almost no chance of winning especially after Rico’s ejection.
Casio is the supposed leader of this team, but he has no leadership quality whatsoever. You can’t count on him in the clutch and he can’t make plays to help his teammates either. Sure, he can get hot every once in a while, but when you concentrate your defense on him, there is no way he can do anything. And what’s worse, he can’t play decoy and make his teammates better. Who else is there? Rico is in the Mythical 5, because he really raised his game to another level this year. BUT, sometimes, no matter how pissed off you are about something and no matter how great a play you make, you don’t taunt your opponents and you definitely don’t give them the finger in plain sight. That’s just plain stupid. DLSU had a real chance to win the game today as they fought back hard from a huge double digit halftime deficit. But as close as they got, Rico was dumb enough to throw that finger of his out and got thrown out of the game. Not that they would have surely won if Rico was still in there, but at least they would have had a better chance.
So in the end, La Salle lost because they had no leader on the floor. When the pressure was on, they could turn to no one, and no one wanted to take charge to lead this team. Add the element of stupidity in a player who should have realized he was worth more to his team if he was IN the game, gave La Salle absolutely no chance to win. Better luck next year, but unless they get a guy like Buenafe, who’s a rookie but doesn’t play like one, and plays with spunk and isn’t afraid to lead his team when called upon, then they can forget about getting to the Finals next year too.
Congrats to the very deserving Ateneo Blue Eagles for winning the championship this season! Ateneo practically swept all the awards too. MVP was Rabeh, ROY was Buenafe, and DPOY was Baclao. Those 3 guys are still going to be in the same team next year. So it looks pretty promising for Ateneo in Season 72 even with Chris Tiu leaving. Pictures courtesy of GreenArchers.PH and Fabilioh.com.
ATENEO 62 -Tiu 16, Nkemakolam 8, Baclao 8, Al-Hussaini 7, Baldos 6, Buenafe 5, Reyes 5, Salamat 3, Austria 2, Escueta 2.
LA SALLE 51 – Casio 18, Walsham 8, Maierhofer 7, Revilla 5, Bagatsing 3, Atkins 3, Mangahas 3, Malabes 2, Ferdinand 2, Villanueva 0, Barua 0.
Quarters: 16-10, 41-26, 50-47, 62-51