Blue Eagles say their win against Green Archers was an upset

Blue Eagles say their win against Green Archers was an upset
CLOSE TO YOU. Tab Baldwin's Ateneo has now closed the gap, 2-3, in their head-to-head matchups in the UAAP with Aldin Ayo's DLSU.

Ateneo de Manila University toppled De La Salle University last Sunday.

Matt Nieto was the hero, Gian Mamuyac yet again proved to be “Mr. Intangibles,” Thirdy Ravena did Thirdy Ravena things, and both Chibueze Ikeh and Isaac Go held their own against reigning and defending MVP Ben Mbala.

Bottom line, there was a total team effort from start to finish for the Blue Eagles – total team effort needed to take down the powerhouse Green Archers.

Just like the University of the Philippines before them, the now league-leaders played a near-perfect game to topple DLSU.

And just like UP before them, the now league-leaders say their victory versus DLSU should be considered an upset. Asked their win makes them the favorites for the championship, coach Sandy Arespacochaga answered, “It’s too early to talk about that. I think if you watched the game, it was an upset on our part.”

He then continued, “I think you all feel that way. La Salle is still the favorite, I guess.”

Going into details, Arespacochaga pointed to how they lost a 14-point lead and it took a mental lapse on the part of the usually steady Kib Montalbo to set up Nieto’s game-winning moment. “It was an Ateneo-La Salle game and you know, some of the players were excited so they veered away from what we wanted to do a couple of times,” he said.

He then continued, “But in the end, when we asked them to follow the game plan offensively and defensively, they followed and we managed to steal the win.”

The mentor also mentioned the disparity between the two teams in terms of shooting the ball. “We shot well especially in the first quarter, but La Salle managed to bring it down,” he said, referring to how they shot 43.9 percent in the first half before finishing with a 39.4 percent mark from the field.

Even with those points for improvement, however, Arespacochaga said they were happy that their boys had the discipline in the face of their opponents’ famed “mayhem.” As he put it, “La Salle is a very good pressing team and a very good trapping team. For us to only turn the ball over 11 times is very good for us.”

He then continued, “We can always look to improve, but we’re happy we won the turnover battle.”

In the end, while they came out on top in the rivalry game, Ateneo reminded everybody that the season is far from over. “Right now, our mindset is we’re done with the first round and we’re looking forward to our next game. Of course, we’re happy that we came up with the win and we’ll celebrate,” he said.

He then continued, “But we’re also waiting for the schedule to find out who we’re going up against and we’re gonna prepare for that team.”

And in the end, the Blue Eagles vow that they, they who just downed the defending champions to go 7-0, are not yet done being better. “The key is to continue improving each game. I think, to a certain extent, we did that (in the first round),” he said.

He then continued, “We’d like to carry that over to the second round. We’re looking at that both as a team and also individually.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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