It’s bonfire time again in Katipunan!
With a nail-biting 65-62 victory over the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers in Game 2 of the Season 75 UAAP Finals, the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles has completed a historic five-peat championship run. Kiefer “The Phenom” Ravena top scored for the Blue Eagles with 22 points, while senior forward Nico Salva provided timely baskets en route to being awarded the Finals MVP trophy.
“I didn’t do it, the players did it actually,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black of his fifth straight UAAP championship. “It was a great game. It really could have gone either way. Unlike in the past [Ateneo-UST] games where each team went on a run [in able to win], it was a close one this time.”
“We really had to make the big plays down the stretch to win. Kiefer once again made a crucial basket down the stretch that separated us [a jumper with 30.4 seconds remaining]. In the end, that really made the big difference. Our defense was pretty good the entire game. We weren’t able to stop their players, but we were able to slow them down a little bit. And we just had enough offense to win.”
Over at UST, head coach Pido Jarencio had nothing but praises for his counterpart. “Hats off to Coach Norman, [for] five years [straight] nakuha niya championship,” he said. The Growling Tigers’ mentor also didn’t want to dwell on his team’s errors (consecutive traveling and five-second inbound violations, and an intercepted pass on their last play) during the last few moments of the game saying, “Breaks of the game lang yung lahat. Siguro para sa kanila [Ateneo] talaga yun.”
When asked about the officiating, Coach Pido was far calmer than his fire-breeding post-Game 1 self: “[Sa tawagan naman] wala na, tapos na iyon. Nag-katawagan, nanalo sila, tapos. Okay na sa lahat.”
Game 2 also saw both coaches end their war of words, with Jarencio and Black sharing a man-hug and handshake after the game. “Kinongratulate ko lang siya. Sabi ko, 'Good game, congratulations,'” said Coach Pido of their reconciliation. “Alam mo madali kami magbasahan ng utak. Ganoon lang naman yun eh. Alam naman niya siguro kung ano yung iniisip niya sa akin, kung anumang nasabi ko tungkol sa kanya. At ako rin naman alam ko rin yung kung anong sinagot niya sa sinabi ko. Pare-pareho tayong lalake kausap dito eh. Saka pangalawa, basketball lang ito. Kanya-kanyang [diskarte] lang ito, kung paano ka makakalamang sa pangyayari.”
“A lot of people don’t know that I was Pido Jarencio’s first coach in the PBA,” shared Coach Norman during the media interview after Game 2. “The events that occurred in the last few days were a little bit unfortunate for the two of us because we never had any problems in the past. It’s just something that goes along with competition."
"Obviously, he is yellow and I’m blue. We are trying to fight it out to win a championship so sometimes…things get out of control, get a bit hot-headed. But at the same time you know I predicted it at the start of the year that it’s going to be UST. I knew coming into the season that they were a complete team. It came out to be true. They are a very strong team and they will be very strong next year.”
Check out more Game 2 quotes and pictures at the gallery below!
WITH REPORTS FROM PAOLO S. MARIANO AND JASMINE W. PAYO