Nieto says ex-Eaglets have Ateneo poised for a championship
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Mar 15, 2016 08:50 PM
BEST OF THE NEST. Matt Nieto sees brighter days for Ateneo - as bright as the day he and the Blue Eaglets won a championship in the Juniors division.
Two years ago, it was Thirdy Ravena. A year ago, it was Aaron Black, Matt Nieto, and Mike Nieto. This year, it’s Gian Mamuyac and Jolo Mendoza.
Looks like the Blue Eaglets who soared above the UAAP Juniors in 2013 and 2014 are back in one nest: Ateneo de Manila University’s Seniors team.
Nothing but happy to be reunited with the teammates he won the championship with in 2014 and placed runner-up with in 2013, Blue Eagles pointman Matt Nieto told ABS-CBN Sports, “Nakaka-proud na ngayon, more players are here representing the Eaglets. Then ngayon pa, ibang level of competition na, pero sila pa rin kasama ko.”
Nieto said that the return of Ravena, continued development of Black and Mike Nieto, and the entry of Mamuyac and Mendoza will only make Ateneo more formidable come next season. “Iba kasi talaga kapag sila kasi kilala ko na talaga sila and I know how they play,” he said.
Expected to become one of the team leaders now that stalwarts Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal have left Katipunan, Matt is only raring to prove himself worthy of being the Blue Eagles’ court general. As he put it, “I have to be the role model for the rookies kasi kami na ngayon yung veterans. They follow what we do so we have to influence them in the right way.”
He then continued, “I’ll do my best to be to be the leader on and off the court. Kahit walang camera, expect me to be vocal and to really be the court general.”
Although he is only entering his second season in the Seniors, the Blue Eagle pointman is confident that he has what it takes to lead Katipunan in the post-Ravena-Pessumal era. “It’s not easy, but I just have to trust myself, my coaches, and my teammates. Talagang paninindigan kong kaya ko ‘to.”
Especially now that he will be flanked by his Blue Eaglet brothers, the younger Nieto believes they can replicate what Ravena and Pessumal accomplished – being champions in both Juniors and Seniors divisions. As he expressed with confidence, “We are bound for a championship just like what Kiefer and Von did during their Juniors and Seniors years.”
From how Matt sees it, they are well on their way towards that goal as he’s liking what he’s seeing so far in the new Ateneo roster – especially with their new highly-regarded mentor. “You can never replace what Kiefer and Von can contribute, but there will always be someone who will step up. We have already improved a lot kahit, more or less, three months pa lang si coach Tab (Baldwin) dito,” he said.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.