UAAP WEEKEND RECAP 1: Surprise! Surprise!

Anthony Divinagracia on Sep 12, 2015 10:02 AM
UAAP WEEKEND RECAP 1: Surprise! Surprise!
...while a deluge of stories continue to flood the papers and the internet about UP’s impressive start, the league’s opening week won’t be complete without the fringe narratives that deserve a second look, if only to make the Fighting Maroons emerge on top of the conversation.

How do you describe the UAAP’s opening week? The answer might depend on a few things. One would be the squad you’re rooting for, especially if it’s named “University of the Philippines,” the perennial bottom-feeders turned league-leaders as of late. But while a deluge of stories continue to flood the papers and the internet about UP’s impressive start, the league’s opening week won’t be complete without the fringe narratives that deserve a second look, if only to make the Fighting Maroons emerge on top of the conversation.

 

UP, hindi ka nag-iisa.

Yes, the Diliman Republic is basking in the glory of a 2-0 start since 2005. Imagine a ten-year wait for the long-obscured and erstwhile disrespected squad which had literally marooned itself in the bottom half of the pack every season, until last Wednesday. No defective MRT trains were lighted up to feed a UP bonfire event, which team captain JR Gallarza dubbed a “celebration of mediocrity” and the jump-off point of former Maroon Mikee Reyes’ immortal Season 77 line (after securing their only win): “As pathetic as it sounds, masarap manalo.” But the resurgent Maroons were not alone in the standings, at least for now. There’s this other crew from an opposite dimension called “UST.” Last season, it was vintage U.S.T. (Until Such Time). Yeah “Until Such Time” when the coach and the players meet on the same side, either of Espana, Lacson, Noval, or Dapitan, for them to finally come up smoking from the Arch of the Centuries. They did it this week. Two-and-oh? It’s still a long way to go. Keep your fingers crossed. Someone might gate-crash the party. Lest we forget, UP is alone after all – in the coaches’ fashion department. Ties, sleeves and khakis anyone?

 

Anyare sa Ateneo? Eh sa La Salle at NU?

These were questions that begged kilometric explanations, at least for die-hard fans of the league’s champions for the past seven seasons. Ateneo, as we all know, had five in that stretch. But the Eagles which had lost key pieces over the years, failed to solve the offensive and defensive puzzles on the table, allowing FEU’s Sudoku-like numbers to prevail in the stats game. The Kiefer Ravena-led Eagles got caught up in a stampede by a team which behaved more like war horses than Tamaraws in their opening game. Incidentally, Ateneo’s Final Four tormentor last season, NU, suffered the same fate, losing to the Green Archers. The flat-starting Bulldogs, who ended 50 years of ignominy in Season 77, rallied in the homestretch only to be repulsed by Jeron Teng and company. And La Salle? Simply put, the Archers were UP-ended by the giant-killing Maroons. Need we say more?

 

The veterans came to play…

Ravena, Teng, Gelo Alolino, Mac Belo, Roger Pogoy, Mike Tolomia, Jett Manuel, Kevin Ferrer and of course Ed Daquioag. Win or lose, they all came to play and lead their respective teams. The King Eagle slugged it out with FEU’s terrific trio with the Tamaraws raining baskets on the Eagles from all fours. Teng flew by Alolino and the defending champions, before yielding the runway to the “Jett” from DIliman. Ferrer displayed maturity, timely scoring, and the steady leadership the Tigers badly missed last season while “Father Ed” preached the gospel of fear to his defenders with Kingdom-come moves earning the nod of the basketball gods.

 

…. And so were the rookies

Good as advertised, these newbies showed flashes of brilliance in their respective debuts. Pio Longa, the Maroons’ prized Cebuano recruit, ably backstopped Manuel against the Archers, who paraded cerebral greenhorn Andrei Caracut on the other end. Then there’s UST rookie Mario Bonleon, who missed the Tigers’ first game due to a finger injury, but fearlessly attacked the FEU defense with a variety of shots. How about Edison Battiler of UE? One of the Warriors rookies this season, Battiler played just 24 minutes but chalked up an all-around effort of 17 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 assists in UE’s first game, unfortunately against a confident UP quintet. Honorable mentions are Adamson’s Nico Capote and FEU’s Monbert Arong.

 

What else did we miss?

Surely, not UP’s history-inspired opening number to kick-off the season, or the gorgeous courtside reporters. School spirit from the stands to the parquet floor is simply overflowing. Just don’t miss the games. Today is another game day.

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