JONES CUP: Ateneo has begun ‘repairing reputation’ of PH ball

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jul 24, 2018 05:24 PM
JONES CUP: Ateneo has begun ‘repairing reputation’ of PH
Ateneo wore the flag well in the recently concluded 2018 Jones Cup (Photo courtesy of @chenstaqs on Instagram)

Ateneo de Manila University only knew they were going to be the Philippines’ representatives one week before the 2018 William Jones Cup.

The Gilas cadets were supposed to be wearing the flag, but after the free-for-all that erupted between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia during a FIBA World Cup Qualifier, those plans were put on hold.

Enter the Blue Eagles – the first-ever collegiate team tasked to represent the country in the regional tournament.

And in Taiwan, the young UAAP champions only made the country proud. “The fact that we had success there, I think that’s important,” head coach Tab Baldwin said in their homecoming lunch on Tuesday in Ortigas.

He then continued, “There were very strong teams and basketball programs in that tournament so to pit ourselves against that level of competition and to be standing at the end, I think that speaks positively about this team.”

Indeed, Ateneo had to settle for a fourth-place finish with a 5-3 record at the end of the tournament, but also showed just what Filipino basketball is all about throughout. “Parang, ang expectation nung una was just for the Philippines to participate, pero for them to go this far, I never expected it,” Ronald Mascarinas, president of team backer Chooks-to-go, said.

He then continued, “Ateneo did not win the championship nor did they make a podium finish, but the fourth-place shone more brightly than gold.”

And more than the standing and the statistics, the Blue Eagles proved that, when it comes down to it, Filipinos are full of sportsmanship.

In one particular instance during their matchup against Korea, Thirdy Ravena and Matt Nieto proved as such by helping a floored opponent get back up on his feet and get to his team’s bench.

That act became etched in the mind of the team’s backer – so much so that the two kids from Katipunan were recognized and rewarded once they returned home. “We are recognizing Thirdy and Matt for their supreme act of sportsmanship so we are giving them a token of appreciation,” Mascarinas said.

For that, Ravena and Nieto collectively received a cash prize of PhP 100, 000.

That act, and the general sportsmanship Ateneo showed all throughout, is a welcome development for all of Philippine basketball – especially on the heels of the free-for-all between Gilas and Australia. As Mascarinas put it, “It’s a redeeming grace for us that they were really excellent goodwill ambassadors for the country. Somehow, they’ve started the process of repairing the reputation of the Philippines.”

He then continued, “Ateneo earned the respect of all the other teams. Itong collegiate team pa yung nakagawa nun para sa atin.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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