UAAP Weekend Recap 8: On the verge…
Anthony Divinagracia on Nov 07, 2015 11:32 AM
Off-court drama after all makes rivalries extra special. But it’s time to separate the crucial from the controversial.
Halloween is over. But the scare of elimination – and monumental upset – remain. Sure, no one wants to get an early vacation ticket for the wrong reason. Even those occupying the upper half wouldn’t risk yielding a notch lest they crave for a quick boot in the Final Four. Indeed it’s scary, pretty scary for everyone with Jack the Ripper girding for post-season harvest.
The ripping starts in two weeks. For now, let’s keep the blade in the drawer and head back to Week 8 of our UAAP.
Ateneo is back in familiar territory.
Kiefer Ravena made sure the Eagles got the job done on Thursday by pummelling UP anew to seal a Final Four berth. “The Phenom” typified Ateneo’s 51.6 percent field goal shooting with 16 points on 9-of-20 shooting, while rookie Adrian Wong added 14. Prior to the UP game, Bo Perasol ribbed his top gun for effectively draining “bad shots” that helped the Eagles strung up five straight wins for a third-best 8-4 card thus far.
But amid that Final Four-clinching victory against the Maroons, Ateneo again dined with controversy as import Chibueze Ikeh spent a night in jail. The reason behind this had nothing to do with the Eagles, Ateneo officials said. Ikeh got out on bail the following day and is set to play for the Eagles against arch-rival La Salle on Sunday.
Certainly, Ikeh won’t be spared from the heckling and name-calling given the magnitude of Sunday’s encounter. That said, Ravena may not be sporting the bull’s eye on his back alone. Off-court drama after all makes rivalries extra special. But it’s time to separate the crucial from the controversial.
Sucking up the pain
Bong dela Cruz rarely waxes poetic. Yet when he does, the stoic figure in him crumbles like a castle of sand.
We do understand. “Nawawala na ang sakit” was how Dela Cruz described UST’s return to the Final Four after going 9-2 with a victory over the Maroons. But it seemed the pain has resurfaced a little after the Tigers yielded an all-important contest to the unsuspecting UE typified by Clark Derige.
The Warriors outran, out-hustled, and outsmarted the Tigers to the ground, denying UST its tenth win plus an inside track to a twice-to-beat advantage.
Likewise the Tigers boosted Ateneo’s own twice-to-beat chances which may haunt UST come Final Four play. Opposite league-leading FEU on Saturday, Dela Cruz’s wards must bring their A-game to avert further disaster, more so keep the pain in check before it reaches kill-point. Eleven wins – and a possible shot at no.1 – is still achievable. The Tigers’ well-renowned pride, puso, palaban battlecry should just be available.
Creating a miracle
NU may be running out of time.
But it has never run out of heroes like JJ Alejandro who led the Bulldogs anew to claim their fifth victory against the equally troubled La Salle. Alejandro followed up his splendid effort versus Adamson with a career-high 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 17 in the payoff period. “Kailangan ko mag-step up. Kung ano ang maitutulong ko sa team, gagawin ko,” he said.
Eric Altamirano again heaped praises to his low-profile but hard-working forward. But the jaws of elimination continue to munch on the defending champion’s spirit. Altamirano though remains optimistic and determined to catch the last Final Four bus. “We’ve been here before, there is no reason why we can’t do it again,” he said. Doing so, NU will have to “create” its own miracle.
How the Bulldogs plan to attain that will depend on their last two games. Losing either of those assignments is not an option if NU wishes to keep the cup intact at Jhocson street. The formula is simple: to repeat, avoid further defeat.
Sweeping the hardcourt is so cliché. How about brooming the table? Bizarre? Not for La Salle’s paddle-weaving lasses who just ruled the women’s table tennis tournament with an unbeaten slate. And oh, make that a back-to-back title run with national team standout Ian Lariba leading the charge.
Going back to the hardcourt, the Lady Archers have just climbed to 10-1, just a whisker behind the still-perfect Lady Bulldogs who are still immovable on top at 11-0.
UP also earned a pinch of the spotlight by tallying its fourth straight W behind Bea Daez and Patricia Pesquera. Yet still, the gulf of talent separating NU and La Salle from the rest may not be open for leisure dipping anytime soon. It’s a virtual island fortress up there for both teams – unless someone manages to reach the beach. That’s something. Survival is another thing.