What you didn’t know about the Eagles and the Archers by Denice Dinsay and Bea Escudero

Barry Viloria on Dec 12, 2016 12:40 AM
Tales from the Ateneo and La Salle courtsides
The courtside reporters of Ateneo and La Salle dish on what they love most about their job—the players! (Photo taken from Escudero's Instagram acount: @_beaescu)

The Ateneo-La Salle finale we saw last week was fate’s work, if you ask the two schools’ courtside reporters this season. Denice Dinsay and Bea Escudero, of course, are the newbies this season next to the rest of the reporters whose second time it is to be on the job. The two girls, who succeeded previous fan favorites Laura Lehmann and Jeanine Tsoi, respectively, are just on their debut year yet it’s already the finals they’re taking on.

It has rendered them overwhelmed.

“It still feels so surreal,” Escudero reveals. “I already felt so blessed to be given the chance to report for DLSU this season but getting into the finals, it made me even more proud!”

Dinsay can only second, “It’s already a dream come true but to make it to the finals—the dream finals—on my debut year, even more than I ever hoped and prayed for!”

Dinsay and Escudero admit they’re each other’s closest in this year’s batch of courtside reporters, having been friends since the screening.

Another admission: The semester that was proved to be a challenge, their courtside duties taking a good chunk of their schedule and thus testing their time management skills. (Get this: Psychology senior Escudero had a thesis defense in the morning before Game 2, while Communications student Dinsay was finishing a paper the night before.) You may not know this but on every game day, they have to be at the venue at least an hour before, so they can have themselves made up and have time to write and rehearse their spiels. When it’s not game day, they have to be at their varsity squad’s practices—as such, they not only develop camaraderie with the team but also immerse themselves in the practices.

And while a spot in the finals should already be enough a reason to tighten trainings, the rivalry between Ateneo and La Salle only added to the pressure. (It’s the first time since 2008 that the blue and green teams were going head to head for the title!) Dinsay and Escudero saw this first hand.

“They were really focused and determined to grab the championship this year. Their practices got really hard and intense,” Escudero, who’s at Enrique Razon at least twice a week, reveals about the Archers. La Salle, of course, finished the finals in just two games, the last at 79-72. It’s Taft’s ninth UAAP title in history.

Dinsay, meanwhile, can only muster “intense” and “more physical” to describe Ateneo’s past training sessions.

The renowned coaches also became a factor on why the season was exciting. Seeing each team’s guru do their thing also struck the two reporters as much as it inspired them.

Escudero describes Coach Aldin Ayo (whose last stint as a collegiate coach was with the Letran Knights at the NCAA—it won them a title): “He has always been very hands-on with the players and in training. That goes for all coaches actually. They always make sure to let the players know what to improve on and you can see how patient they are with all of them. Trainings can go on for three to four hours actually. And I think it's just enough time for the coaches and the boys to really look at every detail that they need to fix.”

On the other hand, Dinsay says that Coach Tab Baldwin—who also has his hands on Gilas as a team consultant—would play the “inspirational” mentor to the Eagles.

“He is a great motivational speaker. He also checks up on the guys and their academics every now and then.”

Ask any courtside reporter in the past and she would say that getting to know the basketball players and their dream of clinching a trophy always make good stuff for the books. Having gotten past their first men’s basketball season, Dinsay and Escudero now share the same sentiment.

Dinsay says of the Eagles, “The whole team was dedicated and desperate to win. They all had the same mentality so they were all very driven to bring back the championship to the blue side.”

Escudero had more to say about the winning team, “You know, I talk to all the players and I get to interview them. There's always a similarity to their answers and it's really to win. But what I loved about it was they always said that they can only win if they work as a team, which was really evident in their games.”

“For the finals, the boys really stepped up. But you don't see any of them complaining and that's what I love about my team—they're all so hardworking!”

Escudero then went on about how eager some of the Archers have grown. Apart from seniors Jeron Teng and Thomas Torres who clinched their first championship in 2013 together, she also mentions Ben Mbala as the squad’s go-getter. It might be the long wait for the former Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation champ, who knows? But his efforts to keep in shape so he remains agile on the court are enough proof of this statement.

“He’s the most intense when it comes to working out. He never stops! Even while training is going on and he's not being used on the court, you'll see him do extra ab workouts, jump rope, etc. And there are times actually the other players join him, too! “

Despite the crazy season, Dinsay and Escudero are both thankful for the experience. We’ll see them in the women’s volleyball season, for sure, but the first-timers say the men’s basketball event will forever remain a favorite. The biggest reason behind it? The players. And so they’ve got cheesy messages for their boys.

“(They) bully me all the time. I don't have a brother but you guys were, I immediately had 16. You taught me how to persevere in times of trials, shut off the noise and focus on the people who love and support you. You showed me how to rise from the ashes and rise 8 times when I've fallen 7 times. Okay, that was too cheesy na please don't tease me about this, too!” says Dinsay.

As for Escudero, “Thank you for being so welcoming and for helping me get through the season in one piece. For also being so patient when I interview you and for always making me laugh and smile in training and in the games. Even if most of the time, you guys are laughing at me! There has never been a dull moment this whole Season and I have you guys to thank for that! I will definitely miss all of you!”

“OMG, this is getting me so emotional!”

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