Looking at FEU's huge win over Ateneo

Looking at FEU's huge win over Ateneo

Ateneo Blue Eagles’ Isaac Go prevents FEU Tamaraws Barkley Eboña (left) and Alejandro Inigo from getting near the ball as he himself is being shackled during their semifinal match yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. | Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – As we said in our preview of the Final Four series between top seed Ateneo and fourth seed FEU, the Tamaraws played three periods versus Ateneo during their two elimination round matches. This time they played four — a sustained effort all throughout — and the result was a huge 80-67 win to send the series to a win-or-go-home situation.

We also mentioned in the preview that Arvin Tolentino was their one constant in the elimination round. If FEU wanted to get a win, then the others needed to step up. Boy, did they.

The Blue Eagles didn’t look comfortable all match long. They forced shots. They were oft beaten to the crucial boards. And they didn’t stop anyone. No one.

Look at how the Tamaraws fared from the field:

Prince Orizu 100 percent FG

Jojo Trinidad 67 percent

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Richard Escoto 57 percent

Ron Dennison 54 percent FG

Barkley Eboña 50 percent

Axel Iñigo 50 percent

Hubert Cani 50 percent

Arvin Tolentino 45 percent

Jasper Parker 33 percent

Okay, Parker didn’t make too many shots but his playmaking was solid. He chalked up five assists; tops for the game. Okay, Wendell Comboy didn’t hit a bucket but he did grab six rebounds and dished for two dimes and picked two pockets. But that was some mighty fine shooting. Sustained.

Arvin Tolentino (13 points) did all the damage in the first half and in the crucial fourth. And he didn’t do it from long range but from inside the paint. Along with Hubert Cani (11 points including a killer three off a broken play), the two former Blue Eagles killed their former team.

The two have always played well against their former squad. Motivation, yes. It should, right? And this time, they delivered to the Tamaraws a chance to go to the finals and fast track their development as a squad.

It seems like a surprise that the one statistical category that FEU didn’t do well (slightly though) was in rebounds, 39-38, where the Blue Eagles just had an extra second chance point, 17-15. Other than that, it was all theirs.

This was building up for some time now for Ateneo…. bad starts, lethargic starts, drifting in and out of focus… Of course, give credit to opposing teams for playing better defense. FEU wanted it more while Ateneo shockingly looked like a bunch of freshmen. A lot of them didn’t play well at all.

Here’s what you have to chew on if you’re an Ateneo fan.

That is why you play for a top spot — for that twice to beat advantage. You get one more chance to make it to the finals.

The loss to La Salle you had about a week to recover. This one to FEU, you have two days to get it out of your system and try to feel good. Not enough but there is no choice.

This isn’t about Xs and Os anymore. This is about desire. They way to play a disciplined team is to un-discipline them for lack of a better term. Bump them, get into their heads, play good physical defense. When they start missing shots… then they panic. Which is essentially what happened.

Now for the first time this season, the Blue Eagles are facing elimination. How do they respond is on them. That kind of effort is not going to cut it. And some guys have to show up. Some haven’t in a while.

What they need is a good start and that they need to sustain it.

Unfortunately, the pressure isn’t on FEU. It’s on Ateneo.