Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Win FROM Him, and FOR Him

I still cannot describe what I am feeling right now. The closest word to describe it is probably "surreal". Before the game on thursday, I kinda had a strong hunch that we would come out victorious but at the same time i had a very heavy feeling. But i wasn't sure exactly what it was - stress, pressure, suppressed excitement? I really didn't know. One thing I knew was that this 2008 Blue Eagle team is destined for something so special. The character of the team is so amazing - hardworking, selfless, focused, fierce! During that last game, I was so excited already but i had to hold back 'til the final buzzer. In one way, i wanted to hit a game-winning shot to seal my college career with a memorable play. But it didn't happen that way, instead, we created a huge lead that just symbolized the dominance of this team throughout the season. There was no "Jec Chia-like" play that turned the tables for the team, but rather it was a very consistent journey for us except maybe for that loss against FEU in the first round.

After that unbelievable monster performance by Rabeh in Game 1, Coach Norman already predicted what was gonna happen in Game 2. They would try to shut down Rabeh by all sorts of double teaming (maybe even taunting) just to get him out of his game, although it was his foul trouble that made him sit almost the entire first half. Coach therefore told me that it's my turn to be aggressive and just fire away! Rabeh then made me realize that this is game #17 for us this season, that's why he knows that it's my time. I knew this # would always be special for me :) Rabeh just displayed that he is truly MVP by coming off the bench in the 2nd half very focused and prepared, not overly excited to score - a sign of maturity. Jobe Nkemakolam also stepped up big time in the 1st half filling in for Rabeh's absence. Of course, Defensive Player of the Year Nonoy Blocklao proved once again that he is dependable as the last line of defense - truly deserving of the Finals MVP award and sending a very important message to the basketball community that scoring alone does not win championships but rather defense. What a role player! I want to acknowledge all my other teammates as well but I'll save that for my future entries.

When Jai made that running jumper with 1 minute something left in the game, I knew we had it! All of a sudden the gallery in blue, as if choreographed, held up signs that said 'Champions' which filled the entire lower portion of Araneta. And I got goosebumps! I've never felt such happiness that it forced me to tears as the game was still on-going. Then, Nonoy and Rabeh hugged me in the center court while Jai was icing the game in the free throw line. Ryan Buenafe passed me the ball as the final seconds ticked and I just threw the ball as high as i could as the buzzer sounded! I wasn't thinking anymore. I hugged everyone that came my way! I just loved everybody! If I remember correctly, the first person i saw and hugged was Coach Jamike. I almost squashed his glasses upon my shoulders but I didn't care anymore! then I looked for my buddy Eric Salamat who came from the bench because of his cramps. But all the physical pain just went away at that instant. As I promised to Rabeh, I will look for him as the buzzer sounded and jump on him. But he was just too surrounded. Then I hugged Coach Norman, to whom we offered this victory greatly. For the first time, he said "I love you Chris" and I responded "I love you too Coach!" Very uncharacteristic for both of us who always appear very serious and with no reaction.

It was a "mission accomplished" after 6 years of hard work and pain combined. More than the sense of fulfillment, i felt like the weight which i had to carry with me was relieved once and for all. From now on, i'll be merely a spectator. How I will miss wearing that blue and white jersey with the name "Ateneo" on it. It was a fairy-tale ending for me and I thank everyone but most especially I thank the Lord for this wonderful gift! I know that He has bigger plans for us and that there is a deeper purpose for all of this. Thank you Lord for making this dream come true! This win is for You, for Your greater glory!


P.S. See you all at the Bonfire (as I mentioned before) on TIU's day, September 30, the last day of the RABEHdan @ 6pm at the Church of the Gesu (Haha corny!) Be prepared for the possibility of rainfall. :) It's time to party!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pre-Game 2, Meg Party

I hope this will be my last blog entry before I can write about the feeling of winning a UAAP championship. I don't really have much to say right now but I just want to ask all of you, who will be reading this before the game tomorrow, to pray for us. This is what we worked extremely hard for, and I hope we can seal it with an exclamation point tomorrow. I truly believe in the power of prayer!

A lot of my friends have been texting me and asking if i am alright because there have been rumors going around that I have been receiving all sorts of threats, even death threats. I just want to say, for the record, that I have not received any such threats and i hope not to receive any in the future. Funny how the media keeps insisting that i am being stalked and threatened. I guess it's all part of the hype of this tumultuous event called Ateneo vs La Salle. Anyway, it's such an honor to be part of it at least for one chapter of my life.

I'd also like to invite everyone to attend MEG Magazine's 10th anniversary party this Friday, September 26 from 6 to 11pm @ Club Ascend (2nd floor Bonifacio High Street). I might drop by as I am supposed to receive an award, but that will depend on the outcome of tomorrow's game. So pray that we close it out! For more details, check out


Monday, September 22, 2008

Finals Game 1 (ADMU vs DLSU)

It wasn't the prettiest of victories, but a win nevertheless! A game played with a lot of intensity and emotion! Jai and Yuri again chased Casio all over the floor and tired him out, forcing him to take difficult shots. Nonoy again anchored the defense highlighted by an exclamation point rejection on Maeirhoffer that sealed the game! It's rare to see him let out all his energy after a spectacular block, but that just goes to show how intense and emotional this game really is! Nothing personal. Defense was key again today. Offense just followed. I believe Rabeh just showed the world today who the true MVP of the league is. Hats off! I felt that La Salle wanted him to score at will and make him beat them all by himself, and he did! Of course, with timely assists from Nonoy, Jai, Eric and Ryan. Expect DLSU to adjust in the next game.

I spent more than half of the game on the bench because of foul trouble and scored only 2 points. Well, I think i got too excited and i wasn't able to adjust to the calls. That just goes to show how deep our team is and that the rest of the guys can indeed step up when needed. During the 2nd quarter, Nonoy, Eric and I were merely spectators but the guys were able to hold the fort and even extend the lead to 7.

Upon waking up, my little brother was pointing to the headline of the Philippine Star and I was shocked to see a huge photo of myself and JV Casio on the front page! That's something I can share with my grand kids when I'm older, my next dream is to make it to the cover of Time Magazine! haha! There were like 4 or 5 write ups about this series on both the Inquirer and Star, all with their own story angles. That's just how big a deal this series supposedly is. In fact, there have been rumors going around that I have been receiving all sorts of threats , even death threats! haha! And that I even hired bodyguards for that matter.

I think I've said enough for now. Series is not yet over. Just one more game and i'm sure DLSU will come out stronger and tougher! We promise all of you supporters out there that we will play even harder this Thursday to try to close out the series. We offer the game to all of you but most of all for His greater glory - AMDG! Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. For God's Greater GLory!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pre-UAAP Finals

The upcoming finals series is just getting so intense. It's being overly hyped up by the media. All sorts of angles are being looked at to create the perfect story. For me, I try as much as possible to stay away from all sorts of distractions and to lay low on publicity interviews. But some things, we just can't refuse. Just today, I did 4 interviews. The first interview was on Boom's show on Magic 89.9, and we had to do it over the phone to save on travel time. My first time to do such a thing. Then I went to school to meet up with my group mates to create a short skit on video for our Chinese class. I don't think I'll ever make it to showbiz in China! I just kept on stuttering. After that, i went to practice and to my surprise, 3 networks were there waiting for me to be interviewed. Funny how 3 major networks were all there under one roof, ABS-CBN/ANC, Studio 23 and of course, my home network GMA7! I guess there are ways to get around a "closed-door" practice. Anyway, i had fun doing the interviews with buddies like Boom Gonzales, TJ Manotoc and Chino Trinidad. Got some advice from Chino too about my career. I'll save that for next time.

Inviting everyone out there to support a former Blue Eagle and teammate who is part of the 2008 MYX VJ search. He's now part of the 12 finalist who will become the next MYX VJ. Vote for Mr. Macky Escalona by texting "myxvj5" and send to 2366 for all networks!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Final 4 (Ateneo vs UE)

Honestly, I didn't expect the outcome to be a 20 point blowout, 50-70. I was actually surprised at how formidable our team can be if we play as one unit. Rabeh and I didn't even score much, but the others rose to the challenge in the scoring department, particularly Jai and Eric. People were asking if i was injured or what because I only made 2 points. In fact, there were even rumors the day before the game that I was injured. Funny how people know more things about me than I do. Well, i didn't have a very settled stomach when i woke up on the day of the game, but that really didn't bother me. I struggled at the beginning of the game so I didn't try too hard to look for my points. Anyway my teammates were doing really well so i supported them. But one thing was really notable during the game, our defense was solid! It annoys me when people ask if the UE players actually 'sold' the game. Well, I highly doubt that even if Marcy scored 0 and others didn't play up to par. But you have to give credit to our defense! They only had 21 points at half time. I hope that we can continue this level of play throughout the championship series, and even raise it some more.

At the start of the season, I didn't expect to have an Ateneo La Salle finals. These next few games will be the biggest games of my career and my greatest wish is to end on a high note! How sweet it would be if... you know... I don't wanna jinx it. People ask me how i'm feeling right now. I tell them i'm excited but i don't wanna get too excited because we haven't achieved anything yet. We can do all the celebrating after the job is done. Now it's all about focus and having the right mindset. There are indeed a lot of distractions, appearances, interviews, comments, etc. especially with all the hype that's being created! Tickets will be a problem again. Just have to block all of these. FOCUS is the keyword. We can only do so much, but with God's grace, I believe we can reach our goal. So thank you to all of you who have been praying for the team and i continue to ask you to pray for a smooth and FAIR game, and may the best team win! One big fight!


P.S. thanks to all those who stayed up late last night (Monday night) to catch Ripley's. We rated well, 21.5, way ahead for that time slot!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Favorite Ateneo Shirts

One reason why I enjoy the UAAP so much is because I intensely feel a sense of school spirit and competition! This is manifested through the attendance and cheering during the games. I believe that one great way to show your support to your university and show that you are truly proud of it is by wearing its T-shirts, more so if you are not a student nor alumnus of the institution. In my case, it's the Ateneo T-shirt! Here are some of my favorite Ateneo shirts that you might want to purchase before the season ends.

1) I find this shirt very attractive and unique. Very colorful. It has the names of all the players, which can serve as a souvenir for Blue Eagles Season 71 as well. This is the mini-business of a friend and part of the proceeds will go to charity. You can check this multiply site for details.

2) I not only like this shirt because of the #17 but because of the cute Eagle patch. I usually use this for warm-ups before a game. It comes in different designs and different numbers as well. Available at the A-shop inside the Ateneo campus.

3) "Magis, this time for the environment" I find the message very significant to each one of us. It comes in royal blue as well. Available at the Loyola School Bookstore in the MVP Building of the Ateneo campus.

4) Not only can these jackets be used in the games, they're perfect for the rainy weather too! I love the hoodie that Lia is wearing, very sporty! Available at Adidas shops nationwide.


P.S. This is not a paid advertisement. Just sharing my love for my university :) sorry for the lack of better pictures

Sunday, September 7, 2008

ADMU vs DLSU (Round 2)

Sometimes I still wonder why people do all sorts of wild things just to get hold of that DLSU-ADMU ticket. I heard that Ateneo supporters were already lining up along the Blue Eagle gym as early as 2am to get hold of the limited upper A and B tickets being sold there. When I asked what time they start to sell the tickets, i was told... 6pm! Wow!! Last year, I remember seeing people setting up tents to spend the night there just to be the first ones in line. I also heard that scalpers were already selling tickets as early as Monday at a price range of 5,000 to 10,000 for patron seats. Deep inside I was thinking, no wonder we players can't get any tickets! I didn't get my 4 ticket allocation (2 patron and 2 upper A which i had to pay for) not until 6pm of Friday, the night before the game. When I requested for more, I was told that they had 5 upper B tickets for me. Fine, I'll take those. It's a common misconception that if you're part of the team, you have more access to tickets. In fact, our coaches only get 2 Upper A tickets. I already have a generic reply to all of those people who all of a sudden text me for tickets when an ADMU-DLSU is fast approaching... "best effort!" I even ALMOST resorted to buying scalper tickets at the last minute because I was already desperate. Somebody is just such a lifesaver! Let's just call her my secret weapon :)

Now, about the game, I had to admit that I did feel nervous before the game. I don't know why. It's no bearing for us. It's my 14th Ateneo La Salle game in my UAAP career, the 7th since last year (I just found out after watching the replay). I guess it's just the fact that it's an Ateneo La Salle game and that there are approximately 23,000 people watching in Araneta and much more in their TV screens here in the Philippines and all over the world. There's just so much hype! Almost everyone I know stops to watch (since my friends are mostly from either of the two schools). It gave me goosebumps when the Ateneo crowd was cheering upon stepping out on the court. But after I was able to warm up, i felt settled and ready to go!

I won't go to the details of the game. But overall, it wasn't our offense that won us the game, but our defense! We held them below 60 points. Many would argue that it's because JV Casio was so out of sync. But he wouldn't be struggling that much if it wasn't for the defense that Jai and Yuri put up on him plus the help defense provided by the big men underneath. Basically, I felt that JV had to carry the weight of the world upon his shoulders and that he tried to take it upon himself today. Unfortunately, he got very little help from his teammates except for Rico. I say the 'weight of the world' because not only does he have to lift his team past the 16 players of Ateneo but also the rest of the de La Salle community. It is difficult to lose and play horribly when much is expected of you, especially if you're playing for ADMU or DLSU - two communities that can comprehend the game of basketball well, plus both are very passionate but can be critical as well. But I believe that everyone is entitled to having an "off night" and i'm sure he will bounce back! So beware FEU. I don't want to say more because there's still a possibility that we might play each other in the Finals. Let's just save the analysis until after the championship :) If not, then this will be my last Ateneo La Salle game :(

For now, it's still a long journey for us! I'm so thankful for the victory and I believe that this is the best way to show our appreciation to all the Blue supporters who were present today, most especially those who had to queue for hours and those who had to cash out a huge amount on tickets. No such thing as a 'no bearing game' against La Salle. I just ask ask and pray that we continue to improve, stay injury-free and keep our focus coming down the stretch, especially since 'hell weeks' and exam weeks are coming up right smack during the Final 4 and championship series, IF we make it! That's actually the disadvantage of having a two-semester system. But like they say, adversity makes champions! One big fight!Oh and if you have the chance, please go and support our Blue Babble in the UAAP Cheerleading Competition today at Araneta Coliseum starting 2pm! Audience impact weighs a lot in the criteria for judging.


P.S. I'd like to apologize for not being able to entertain the fans outside the South Gate after the game as I was prevented by Araneta Security to do so, as a result, I had to take an alternate way out. Next time! :)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Blue Eagles Visit Adidas

I'm sorry it took me a while to finally write something about the Trinoma experience last Sunday. I have to say it, i was so overwhelmed with the turnout! I totally didn't expect anything close to the number of people who showed up that day. And I am very much delighted of course!

The team gathered together at around 3pm in Abe for a quick bite, courtesy of Adidas. While we were still eating, we were told that the line was starting to pile up in the Adidas shop in the 2nd floor of the mall. I couldn't quite picture the crowd because i was expecting students and alumni supporters of Ateneo to be there to catch a glimpse of the team. At 4pm, we all went down to the shop wearing the clean White Adidas jacket. When we got the store, we were like "Wow! This can't be real!" Not only was the store filled with people inside, the crowd was building up outside as well. What was interesting to note was that most of the people present were not Ateneans. A lot were young high school and college students, mostly girls i should say. There were some cute kids too :) It sure doesn't hurt to feel like the Philippine version of the Jonas Brothers for an afternoon, well at least even 1/10th of their stardom! Haha!

When we entered the shop, we were introduced one by one by the hosts Lia Cruz and Andrei Felix, who also happen to be Adidas endorsers and Ateneo alumni. Then, we proceeded to a long table that's shaped like a letter "U" in order to give everyone a chance to get their posters and apparel signed by each one in an orderly and organized manner. After signing for about 30 minutes, we noticed that the lines weren't getting any shorter. And we were told to sign faster so that the line could progress rapidly. Signatures were getting shorter as well. Jai was beside me and i saw his signature from "Jai Reyes #5" it became "Jai #5". I got tired as well, so from "Chris Tiu #17", it became "Chris T #17". Apparently, two letters make a huge difference. The first few ones in line were still able to get pictures with some of us, but the organizers got stricter and disallowed picture taking so that others could get the chance to get our autographs as well. I do feel bad to see the fans get disappointed, but over the years, i've learned that it's really difficult to please everyone. The next time i checked my watch, it was already 6pm. It was exhausting. I've had two bottles of mineral water during the 2 hour period and i had to take off my jacket because the temperature was rising! I was talking to Oping Sumalinog beside me and he said that he wouldn't mind doing this the whole day if we win the championship!

It was truly an experience that made us feel really grateful for the support coming from the fans from all over! Some even waited as early as 12nn. I thought that those who would be following the Blue Eagles would be mostly Ateneans. It's even more touching to know that the base has extended outside of that circle. And we really appreciate it all! Thank you!

If you guys wanna get your chance as well, I guess you'll have to wait 'til the Bon Fire! :)