Monday, June 23, 2008

A Blue Night Out (June 21, 2008)

After an exhausting week of twice a day training sessions, my teammates and i finally got the chance to see each other not on the hardcourt wearing practice jerseys and rubber shoes but elsewhere wearing jeans and dress shirts. We scrimmaged from 1 to 4 that afternoon then we headed straight to the NBC Tent in the Fort for the launch of TEAM ATENEO - a fundraiser event for the 3 Ateneo basketball teams namely the Eaglets, Lady Eagles and Eagles. Proceeds would be allocated for scholarship fund and other expenses of the athletes. Despite the heavy rains, present were the very generous alumni who purchased tickets that were sold at 3,500php each that included buffet dinner, a comedy presentation and live band performance all by Ateneans. Of course, the players from all 3 teams were presented on stage with Mel Garrido and Gabe Mercado as the hosts of the event. The turnout was pretty successful with a good mix of politicians, businessmen, sports icons, executives and families. It was also real touching to see the 2002 Champion team present (Rich Alvarez, Rico Villanueva, LA Tenorio, Larry Fonacier, JC Intal, etc.). In fact, they even gave words of encouragement for us current Blue Eagles. Whether they were forced or not to purchase the P3,500 tickets, it was great to see them all there! Thank you Tita Debbie Tan for putting this all together and congratulations for a very successful event! Of course, SMART was our major sponsor :)

But the night didn't end there, of course we had to celebrate our NSL Championship! and where else but in the closest and hottest club nearby - EMBASSY! I have to say that clubbing is not exactly my preferred way of socializing, but once in a while will do! And what better excuse to give than using the 'team bonding' line. Besides, the boys deserve a treat after going through tough battles in the NSL. Thanks to Tim Yap and Bingo Manahan (both apparently graduated from the green side), we were given VIP stamps to roam around the jam-packed lounges. Since I was the eldest or one of the eldest, I had to stay behind by the reception area and make sure that all 30+ (Team A and B) players get to enter smoothly. Imagine almost all male 6 footers and above walking in, we stuck out like a sore thumb! Good thing we had a couple of beautiful girls with us too so it didn't seem like a sausage fest! When i finally went up the stairs and entered the lounge, i saw all of them just sitting down chatting without any drinks. Unfortunately, as the only captain present (Nonoy and Yuri had other engagements) I didn't want to disappoint the boys so i got them two bottles of Vodka with mixers of course just to get them going. I know it was gonna make my wallet much lighter afterwards but thanks to the smallest guy on the team, we halved the bill into 2. Jai will probably be next year's captain as it will be his last as well. We waited for the R&B Wing to open because they said guests can only enter by 1. When it finally did, we were all separated into small groups and I lost track of each one. I haven't spoken to them since but i hope that everyone will have their own stories to tell come practice tomorrow - pleasant stories at that! I, myself sat by the sofa in the wing with the House music chatting with our new Physical Therapist, Andre, who apparently sat along the Archer bench last UAAP season as their therapist. By 2 am, we decided to leave the boys and let them party on their own. My stomach started grumbling so I grabbed a bite at McDonalds with my good friends Sam and Cons before heading home. It's been a while since I've gone home past 12.

NSL Championship

Hey everyone! I know this entry is one week late since we won the Nike Summer League Championship. I haven't really had time to update my blog because i'm preoccupied with school, business, training and not to mention my injuries. Yes, i have a couple of injuries that have been bothering me, from my back to my adductors, to my knees and ankles. And i frequently have to deal with that scenario because for some reason my body parts are 'made in China' as my trainers would put it, that's why i've been spending a lot of time in the Moro Lorenzo clinic lately trying to nurse my injuries. But luckily, they haven't been serious enough (knock on wood) to prevent me from training as the UAAP season is fast approaching. We play DLSU again in two weeks, July 6 if i am not mistaken! Training sessions have been really tough, with twice a day sessions during the week! I think it's paying off and I feel that I can be in my best conditioning shape in my entire life when the season begins, but we have to manage our conditioning in a way for us to maintain it throughout the season and not peak too soon.

Going back to the NSL Championship, you all know that ADIDAS has been my personal sponsor since 2003 and so with all due respect, i try not to use the word 'Nike' as much, although everyone associates our last championship with it! Despite having to undergo stretches of adversity because of losses in the FIl-Oil tournament and various injuries, we managed to stage a come-from-behind victory in the final seconds of the game. Overall, our defense tightened up and they finally started missing their shots after shooting red hot almost throughout the game. But we hung in there, kept our composure and luckily we ended up victorious. Many have congratulated me for making the final shot, but i certainly have to give credit to Coach Norman for the improvised drawn up play during the time-out (that was UE's play btw) and to my teammates who executed it perfectly despite the pressure. It was a great feeling and somehow someway during the game, i felt that the game would turn to our favor! I couldn't help but smile after the shot went through the net. I'd like to thank all the Saints and my saint relatives who guided that basketball through the net! So far my favorite Pink MiAdidas hasn't failed me yet! I only use them on selected games :) At least we ended our summer program with an exclamation point!! It was pre-examination of our team's character and the main exam will be in two weeks time. Again, thank you all for cheering and believing in the Blue Eagles :)

Monday, June 9, 2008

DLSU vs ADMU (Fil Oil Elimination)

I hate losing, especially against DLSU. It really was a rusty game for us offensively and even more defensively. The game was very low scoring at the start but the offense for both teams started to pick up in the second half. Although we had the lead most of the way, we had a lot of lapses and turnovers that swung the momentum to the other team. I believe there were two keys that caused us the game. The first is our inability to make defensive stops when we needed them especially at the end game. Of course each individual has a responsibility to stop his man from scoring but the idea of 'team defense' wasn't there as well for us - I hope it's because of the fact that we just concentrated on our individual offensive skills in the Abunassar camp in LA and that we still have that defensive mindset in us. Second is the amount of offensive rebounds we gave up. DLSU - 21, Ateneo - 9. If we were to look at all the other stats, everything else is very similar. Turnovers (+2), Assists (-1), etc. We just gave them too many extra possessions, which tired us out defending for about 24 seconds then they end up with the ball again and another possession for us to defend. Another thing lacking is that killer instinct in us. We allowed them to inch back in and gain confidence when we've already lead by as much as 8 towards the end of the 3rd quarter, if my memory serves me right. There were also some mis-calls by the officials that were crucial such as the continuation of the 'supposedly 24-shot clock violation' shot of ryan buenafe which only touched the backboard, that led to a fast break layup for them. But no excuses for us! You got to give credit to their defense as well and we really lacked these things i mentioned above.

Enough of the technical stuff. Well, a loss is a loss and we just have to learn from it. Luckily, it's still pre-season and there's time to improve. I hope it doesn't happen again - not to these Archers again who always happen to play well when against us. Good news is, we have another chance to get back at them the day after tomorrow (Wednesday) at Ultra for the Nike Summer League Semi Finals! But first we have to settle our quarter finals match against Adamson tomorrow for the Flying V Tournament. Just as it seems that my life is revolving solely around basketball, tomorrow also happens to be the first day of class (Yes, I am still a student!!) and the first day of our operations for Chinky Chickens in the Miriam College Cafeteria. I hope it turns out well. I have to rest now so that I can get up early to settle some last minute details.

See you on Wednesday, 4pm at the Philsports Arena (Ultra) wearing Blue! One Big Fight!