There are a lot of what ifs that we can mention about that tightly-fought Game 1 of the UAAP Finals. Like what if Aljun did not hit that crucial trey to stop Ateneo rally? What If Jeron’s shot, wherein he was subsequently called for a pushing foul did not count? What if the smaller Nieto made the bonus foul shot? What if Jeron’s block on Black was called as a foul?
Well we can all breathe a sigh of relief because despite everything that went wrong officiating wise plus the scary moments down the stretch, the Green Archers still managed to escape with the win.
If there is one takeaway from this game, it is that Ateneo is clearly not the pushover team they are billed to be at the start of the season. Though many did not expect them to reach this far, to be honest, it wasn’t really a far-fetched thing. If you look at it, despite losing a lot of key players from last year, the Blue Eagles finished third in the FilOil preseason, they never experienced being in the bottom of the standings all season and the fact and that they have beaten all the final four teams including La Salle, yes this team is legit. No luck here, this team deserves to be in the finals.
A win away from clinching the UAAP title, it’s up to the Green Archers to finish this series tomorrow. Don’t expect Ateneo to just roll over and hand the trophy to us. After almost snatching Game 1, the Blue Eagles confidence are high so it is very important for the team to match their grit and toughness all throughout tomorrow’s match.
The Archers have not been their usual selves in these last several games and if our coaching staff still has some surprises up their sleeves, tomorrow is the best time to show it. Going into a winner-take-all match on Saturday will put an enormous amount of pressure on the team wherein they no longer have any room for error.
The coaches can do so much but in this situation, it will be the players’ determination and will to win that will spell the difference in this game.
For Big Ben, the soon-to-be crowned league MVP, he needs to once again assert his dominance in the low post and not be affected by the intense physicality.
For Jeron, after losing against the Blue Eagles in the second round, I guess it is destiny for him to face this team in the finals. Imagine ending your storied collegiate career losing against your rivals? This could very well be his final UAAP game so expect him to go all out and give us a performance to remember.
To the Green Archers, this is your year. Let’s close it out tomorrow.