The Ateneo Blue Eagles return to the UAAP men's basketball championship round on an 11-game winning roll. Powered by Rabeh Al-Hussaini, the Blue Eagles fight to remain unstoppable when the best-of-three title series fires off today, 27 September 2009, at the Araneta Coliseum. [firstpara]
Team captain Al-Hussaini (6-foot-6 center) along with co-skippers Jai Reyes (5-foot-8 point guard) and Nonoy Baclao (6-foot-5 center) and teammates Eric Salamat (6-foot shooting guard), Kirk Long (6-foot-1 shooting guard), Ema Monfort (5-foot-6 point guard) and Nico Salva (6-foot-4 power forward) share how the Blue Eagles keep their focus on the game and remain pumped up in their bid to capture back-to-back crowns.
Reyes: At this point, it's basically just winning time. As coach Norman (Black) said, whatever the score is, it's all about winning at this time of the season. I just play with a lot of heart, work hard, and get the job done.
Al-Hussaini: We're thankful that we're back in the Finals, but our goal really is to win the championship. It doesn't stop here. We have to keep our focus.
Baclao: Kailangan pa namin mag-extra effort. I'm thinking that it's my last year and I have to give it everything for us to win the championship again.
Salva: It's a pleasure to be with these great players and to have a great coach. As long as I can help, I'll give everything to give this team a championship, especially Rabeh, and the other seniors who are playing in their final year. I'm still focused in helping our team win them championship.
Al-Hussaini: I'm not the type who's a vocal leader like Chris Tiu. I just do whatever I can. I try to lead by example. We always talk about working as a team, walang iwanan.
Reyes: Being a captain, it kind of comes with the job of playing point guard. I have to be selfless, that's the first thing. Teammates first, myself last. That's how a captain ball is. There are lots of sacrifices, but also lots of rewards.
Salamat: Our team this year is very different from last season. Last year, we had Chris Tiu and Yuri (Escueta), and those two are really leaders on court. This year we said, walang magsasarili, team effort talaga every game.
INTERVIEW BY: JASMINE PAYO