RELIVING ’06 will remain a dream for the UST Growling Tigers. The Ateneo Blue Eagles swept the UAAP season 75 finals best-of-three championship series and defended their title from the Tigers after clinching them from a three-point deficit loss, 65-62, in game two of the Finals at the jam-packed Smart-Araneta Coliseum yesterday.
The Tigers tried to bounce back in a 78-83 game one loss as Tiger captain Jeric Fortuna carried the bulk on his own, being the only one with double figures in points, grabbing a season-high of 20 markers and hauling 8 boards. Backing him up was Teng with 9 points, while Abdul and Lo helped with both 8.
Last game’s scoring leader Aljon Mariano failed to get his rhythm as he only scored 4 points in the match, far from his 22 output from game one.
It has been a tight ball game for both teams battling in the first three quarters, keeping the scores close and not giving either team the chance to get a double digit lead, which ended as a tie 29-29 come by the end of the first half.
However, come the three minute mark in the fourth quarter, UST’s composure started to crumble as they continuously missed crucial baskets, which paved way for Ateneo to establish a 4 point cushion in the final minutes.
Nevertheless, the Tigers slowly inched closer to the Eagles after cutting the lead into just two points within the two minute mark in the final quarter, 60-58. Unfortunately, in an attempt to drive the ball, Karim Abdul accidentally slipped and was called for a travelling violation. With that turnover, Blue Eagles Juami Tiongson made a buzzer beater basket, extending their lead to 62-58 with 1:12 remaining.
With a great defense showed by the Blue Eagles, the Tigers are again forced with another turnover from an inbound situation. With 30 seconds remaining, Kiefer Ravena sizzled the crucial basket and gave them a 6-point stretch.
Even though Fortuna drained a clutch trey in the corner, closing in with just three points at 65-62, time was not on their side. It was their turnovers that became a big factor which eventually led to the loss of the team.
Even as the Tigers lost against Ateneo, Coach Jarencio ended the season with a positive note for his boys and the whole Thomasian community.
“Nothing to be ashamed of, you gave it your all…learn from this mistake,” said Coach Pido as his final words to his boys for the season.
Ateneo Blue Eagles claimed its fifth consecutive champion year under head coach Norman Black, who is now headed to the Talk N’ Text in PBA.
Goodbye Jeric and Melo
UST will lose Fortuna and Melo Afuang, who already accumulated their five-playing years in the league. Both players have left great legacies to the next breed of Tigers. Definitely both players will be remembered in years to come as great basketball players in the history of UST.
Jeric said that he will be entering the D-league, particularly in the Blackwater team. He hopes that opportunities will open for him as he levels up in his basketball career.
“I will miss the time and enjoyment kasama ang team, mabilis lang [kasi] ang limang taon,” Jeric said. Jeric will continue his basketball career after he graduates, however, life becomes a different story for Melo.
“Maghahanap [ako] ng trabaho or magtatapos sa graduate school. Kailangan ko ng working experience, pero kapag di natupad, balik basketball siguro ako,” Melo said.
Tigers’ Scores: Fortuna 20, Teng 9, Lo 8, Abdul 8, Ferrer 7, Bautista 6, Mariano 4, Vigil 0, Pe 0, Afuang 0
Eagles’ Scores: Ravena 22, Slaughter 15, Tiongson 10, Salva 8, Chua 6, Gonzaga 3, Sumalinog 1, Golla 0, Elorde 0, Buenafe 0
Quarter scores: 14-13, 29-29, 46-47, 62-65
By Josiah Darren G. Saynes and Karl Cedrick G. Basco
Photo taken by Jenzine Inah M. Alcantara